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Is Google's Merchant Center shipping requirements hurting your busines

The new requirements coming in September require US merchants to disclose



10:35 pm on Jul 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

We've already gone ahead and updated our google merchant center feed to including a flat rate shipping throughout the United States, but I believe it's hurting our business severely.

Many of our competitors are not putting in their shipping costs or are setting them to FREE even though they are not.

I'd love to be able to use our "on the fly" shipping when they put in their zipcode, but with the new google requirement to disclose shipping is costing us clicks.

When we didnt disclose our very reasonable rates, sales were up... now that we disclose it.. sales are way down.


11:40 pm on Jul 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I would highly recommend reporting any policy violations here:


Regarding shipping, you can add the on the fly shipping to display on Google Product Search. Check this out:


Then you can choose how to best go about applying your shipping equation. You'll need to include the weight of your items in the feed.

Also, if you have free shipping over a certain amount, make sure any products that cost more than that threshold have free shipping.


11:41 pm on Jul 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Let me know if you have any follow up questions, adding shipping can be a bit tricky.


7:46 pm on Aug 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

yes, but we ship world wide... having to run the script to populate that into already massive xml files is going to be extreme. It's bad enough with all the other data that has to compile.

google isnt going to do much to policy violators... just like they dont do anything with their spam reporting.


1:27 pm on Sep 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

I agree that sites are punished for following the requirements. Shipping is/was required as of September 1st, after initially being pushed back from July 6. Unfortunately Google is yet to enforce the change so sites are being punished with lower traffic if they show shipping up front. Many are still also listing free shipping when there is no free shipping on an individual product (i.e. there's only free shipping if the total is over a certain amount).


1:34 pm on Sep 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I also noticed Google doesn't seem to do anything about sites that use a bait-and-switch listing products in their feeds that don't exist only to give you "others looked at...." results. Several of my e-commerce clients complained to me about this so I told them to complain to Google. But it's like most things: a few mess it up for the rest of us.

And just an FYI to online shoppers: Russ Berrie US filed chapter 7 bankruptcy on April 16, 2011, so be cautious when ordering a Russ product that's out of stock and the site says it's on back order. Russ is shuttered and their assets are in the hands of the courts. In fact, they merely locked their doors and didn't even tell their employees.


3:12 pm on Sep 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

It's definitely a pain to abide by the requirements when others don't comply and run free. However on September 22 it appears Google's enforcement of these new policies will get more strict.

At Search Engine Strategies in San Fran a few weeks ago a guy from Google was talking about the requirements that were being enforced on September 22 (Google Product Category requirements, variation requirements for retailers, more info here: [googlemerchantblog.blogspot.com...] and announced a penalty structure for those that do not comply.

1. Failure to comply starts off with a 7 day warning period where you can fix the problems and your products are still live.

2. Failure to comply by this time begins a 7 day suspension period of your entire account.

If you don't fix the problems within those 7 days,

3. 28 day suspension period of your entire account ensues.

The fact that the shipping policy is not being enforced now though is killing me slowly inside. Can't wait for the 22nd and I hope hope hope they enforce it then. If not, some changes will have to be considered!


3:56 pm on Sep 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google shopping is the saddest corner of their enterprise. It's exciting that you can interact and get info from people like Matt Cutts, the Google Webmaster Help folks, etc.--they inform, take feedback...but Shopping/products is a closed and largely silent outfit. Violations and inaccuracies are almost the norm. It's very un-googlesque!


4:07 pm on Sep 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Un-googlesque? Hehe, not really. Their shopping channel is completely free for merchants so it makes sense why they choose not to invest a lot of resources into it.

But they do listen to the body of merchants that use the program, and if there is enough of an uproar, they do something. Hence why they pushed back the shipping requirements so more merchants had time to abide by them, but then they about faced and still aren't enforcing the requirement.

I'd say mystery and confusion has been quite the norm for Google Shopping for quite some time, but if you're big enough and pay enough money into adwords, they'll take care of you. A sad but true fact!

The good news is that Google Shopping is not rocket science and unless you dig a pretty deep hole for yourself and get an account banned, you're going to be able to reap some of that free traffic for your own benefit.


4:26 pm on Sep 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

They strive for accurate data so allowing violations is against their goal, free service or not. Google webmaster tools is also free, sitemap submissions are free, snippets are free--free because they all help google get better data.

And it does have some effect on financials too: adwords are displayed on product search pages...but it's often a lousy place to advertise due to the scam-my or inaccurate listings from feeds.

Hopefully they do listen and September 22 will lead to changes but letting September 1 go by without a hint of enforcement doesn't augur well.


4:52 pm on Sep 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

They strive for accurate data but the lack of enforcement is not something new! :)

If it was really that big of a deal to them they would be enforcing right now, but as usual more work is put towards analytics and adwords.

"Hopefully they do listen and September 22 will lead to changes but letting September 1 go by without a hint of enforcement doesn't augur well."

Again, certainly annoying, but not surprising.


11:12 pm on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I am seeing a few sites that claim free shipping, but the fine print - which Google does not pickup - has disclaimers like "on orders over $500" and such.

In Google Shopping it shows zero for shipping costs.

They are supposed to start enforcing the new rules in a day or so, so will see what happens then.


12:14 am on Sep 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The real test will be seen on the 30th at 12:00 AM. That's the first day when the warning period ends and the suspension period begins.


4:11 pm on Sep 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Is google shopping even functioning correctly at the moment? Seems to go to page five of results then starts over again with the same results.

Not even mentioning the really horrible results it's coughing up.

Noticed they also changed their splash page with more ad type things posing as guides as well.


4:13 pm on Sep 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

And to top all that off they eliminated the "shopping" text link at the top navigation so people have to click "more" to access it.


2:28 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Can you post some links? I'm still seeing shopping text link in my navigation.


5:45 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

CPC_Andrew: I liked your blog post on the topic--keep up the fight! I started wondering whether google could do a couple of things:

1. add a "free shipping over $xx" field.

2. institute an api for checking shipping rates at stores, e.g. google provides the ability for a merchant to submit a link that adds an item to the basket and calculates shipping for an address of google's choosing. This way they could check against random products and random addresses to verify that Merchants are being honest.


5:50 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Totally agree. Something has to be done, because right now merchants that are complying with the rules are losing money. Makes no sense! I'm trying to get merchants together to voice their opinion and for Google to hear it.

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