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Google’s product data specifications ensure that all product data submitted to Merchant Center is standardized for the various marketing services offered by the company. 

If you sell products on Google, then you’re probably aware of these specs and its required and optional attributes that keep your products running on the platform.

Every year, Google updates its product data specs with, as they put it, “a goal of creating a better experience for people who are searching for products online.” This year’s focus is on improving the quality of product information across free listings and Shopping ads.

April 6, 2021 changes

Checkout price enforcement

Google has long been requiring that the price of your Merchant Center products be consistent with the price shown on your personal landing pages. It is now further enforcing that policy and verifying price accuracy throughout the checkout process. 

Merchants found violating the policy will receive a warning and will have 28 days to resolve inconsistencies. Failure to do so will result in account suspension.

Learn more about the price attribute and how to resolve price inconsistencies.

Region-specific shipping speed

Shipping speeds for specific regions can now be specified at the item-level by using new sub-attributes of the shipping attribute, mix/max_handling_time and min/max_transit_time. These new sub-attributes apply to Shopping ads and free listings, but not to Buy on Google listings.

Learn more about shipping settings, the shipping attribute, and its mix_handling_time and max_handling_time sub-attributes.

Backordered and preorder products

Products can now be specified as backordered by setting availability to “backorder” and by using availability_date to specify when products will become available. Similarly, products can be specified as preorders by setting availability to “preorder” and by setting a relevant availability_date value. This applies to Shopping ads and free listings, but not to Buy on Google listings.

Learn more about the availability and availability_date attributes.

New big, tall, and plus sizing

The size_type attribute can now be used to indicate new variations of clothing sizes, “big”, “tall”, and “plus”. You can now also provide up to two values, such as “petite maternity” or “big and tall”. The value “oversize” is no longer accepted for size_type; the value “plus” should be used instead.

Learn more about the size_type attribute.

No more single-feed support for cross-border payment plans

Google no longer allows products using the subscription_cost or installment attributes to be listed cross-border using a single feed — any products with payment plans that target more than one country will be disapproved. Products can still be listed with a payment plan across countries by adding it to a separate feed for each country. This applies to Shopping ads and free listings in all countries where the installment or subscription_cost attribute is available.

Learn more about the installment and subscription_cost attributes.

Changes starting June 15, 2021

Product identification enforcement

Google may disapprove products that use the same manufacturer part number (mpn) and brand combination. Products will be disapproved if:

  • There are multiple products with the same brand and mpn combination but different item_group_id values.
  • There are multiple products with the same brand and mpn combination and the same variant attributes (color, material, pattern, size, size_type, unit_pricing_measure, gender, product_detail, condition, and multipack).

Item-level warnings have already been issued in affected merchants’ Diagnostics. Unresolved warnings will turn into disapprovals starting June 15, 2021.

Learn more about the brand and mpn attributes.

Add time zones to date-time attributes

If timezone is missing from your availability_date, expiration_date, or sale_price_effective_date attributes, Google will assume the attribute is in the UTC timezone. This does not apply to Promotions-specific attributes, such as promotion_effective_dates and promotion_display_dates.

Learn more about formatting date and time.

Changes starting September 15, 2021

Shipping country sub-attribute requirement

You can show products in more than one country of sale by adding additional countries to your primary feed settings or by using the shipping attribute for individual products. When going the route of utilizing the shipping attribute for that function, it’s required that you have a value for the sub-attribute (of shipping) country, to ensure that those products are shown in the intended countries. 

Item-level warnings have already been issued in affected merchants’ Diagnostics. Unresolved warnings will turn into disapprovals starting September 15, 2021.

Learn more about the shipping attribute and how to show products in multiple countries of sale.

Why this matters

Every time Google updates their product data specs, their ecommerce services get more efficient as a result.

These updates don’t only have lasting implications on Google, but as well as on other platforms, as the ecommerce industry at large tends to reference Google’s cutting edge methodology.

Make sure the product data you're submitting to Google isn't conflicting with any of the changes already in effect, nor with any future changes. Adapting your data early is the key here – you don't want to be caught off guard by something that is inevitably going to cause issues.

As always, If you need help making any changes on any of your product feeds, our support team is only a few clicks away.

The Google Shopping Optimization Handbook
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