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Shipping is a sore subject for many online shoppers. To put it into perspective, 66% of online shoppers have decided not to buy an item because of online shipping costs. One way to avoid this scenario when it comes to your online store is to be upfront about shipping costs from the start. Google has a list of requirements and guidelines that you’ll want to follow to ensure your setting up your shipping as accurately as possible.

Overview

Shipping settings and requirements will differ depending on the country that you are targeting. Before tailoring a feed towards another country, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the differences in shipping requirements on Google. Otherwise, you won’t be eligible to sell within that country or region.

When setting up shipping, you’ll need to provide accurate information that matches the availability on your landing pages. Whatever shipping price that you submit to Merchant Center must either match or overestimate the price you are charging on your website.

For those merchants that charge the customer the same amount that they pay for shipping, Google lets you select carrier rates for common carriers in some countries. Once selected, Google will automatically calculate the shipping cost.

Shipping Cost

According to Google, the shipping should include the cost charged by a shipping carrier or other costs that are directly related to shipping.

Words usually used to describe shipping costs are:

  • Handling
  • Delivery
  • Shipping
  • Logistics
  • Carrier

Insurance costs related to the above terms should also be included in shipping.

Shipping Options

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Google has a variety of shipping options available. At a glance, it can even seem overwhelming. We’ve summarized Google’s shipping options below and when to use each one. For more details in regards to each option, you can reference Google’s help article.

Shipping Option: Free

  • Use if you charge free shipping for certain ranges

Shipping Option: Fixed Rate

  • Use if you have a flat shipping rate for all orders

Shipping Option: Carrier weight and the shipping_weight and dimensions attributes

  • Use if your shipping is based on rates from the supported carriers

Shipping Option: Percentage of Total Order

  • Use if your shipping costs are based on a percentage of the total order cost

Shipping Option: Subtable

  • Use if your shipping is based on more than two dimensions

Shipping Option: No shipping

  • Use if you are excluding certain products from delivery in a shipping service

Shipping Option: Shipping attribute

  • Use if you have unique shipping costs for a particular product
  • When you send shipping through the feed attributes for specific products, this will essentially override the account shipping setting setup within Merchant Center.

Shipping Attributes

Not all merchants calculate shipping using the same method. Google gives you the option to set up shipping based on factors such as weight, price, and size.

If your shipping rates vary by any of the above attributes or if you are using carrier rates (which are based on weight and size), you may need to add certain shipping information to your product feed. The following fields within the product feed specs are dedicated to shipping: shipping_weightshipping_lengthshipping_widthshipping_height, and shipping_label.

Here’s a rundown on when and how to use each field. Reference Google’s help articlefor more details:

  • shipping_weight
  • Use if your shipping varies by weight
  • Add a shipping weight for each product
  • shipping_length, shipping_width, and shipping_height attributes
  • Use if your shipping varies by dimensions
  • Along with the feed attributes, use the account shipping settings
  • Add the dimensions of the product to use for carrier rates
  • Shipping_label
  • Use if you have different shipping costs for a group of products 
  • Also use the account shipping settings
  • You’ll need to define the group of products (like “oversized”) and apply the unique shipping rate to the desired group

Minimum Order Value

Some merchants may only provide shipping when a customer spends over a certain amount (i.e, orders $20 or over). If you have a minimum order value but offer products below that price, it’s important that you set your minimum order valuewithin your shipping settings.

Say your minimum order value is $20 but you sell a hat for $15. A customer that is only looking to buy the $15 hat will not be able to do so as this is below your minimum order value. By letting customers know this information ahead, you eliminate the cost of wasted clicks from customers not wanting to purchase the minimum order amount.

How to Set Up Shipping in Merchant Center

Shipping isn’t a one-size-fits all when it comes to ecommerce. The way one retailer charges for shipping can differ from the way another is charging for it. Google lets you set up shipping based on a variety of factors, including weight, price, and size. If you charge the customer the same price that you pay for shipping through common carriers, Google can even calculate that shipping cost for you when you select carrier rates in certain countries.

With all these options, selecting the correct shipping settings and reading over all of Google’s help articles can become overwhelming. That’s why we’ve done some of the dirty work for you and created a brief overview on how to set up shipping within Merchant Center based on Google’s help articles.

Before we discuss the settings within Merchant Center itself, you also want to familiarize yourself with the attributes that you can use within the feed to add shipping information. Available shipping fields include shipping_weight, shipping_length, shipping_height, shipping_width, and shipping_label. For information on when to use each field, visit the “Shipping-related Product Data” section in Google’s help article.

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Not all of your products have to have the same shipping services. Through the shipping_label attribute, you can select certain groups of products to assign different shipping services to.

Provide multiple shipping services for the same product (in the same country)? Not a problem for Google. They will calculate the lowest shipping rate to show to users.

Step 1: How to Create a New Shipping Service

When you’re ready to set up shipping, you’ll first need to set up a new shipping service.

Once you are logged into Merchant Center, you’ll want to:

  1. Select Shipping
  2. Click the plus button to create the new shipping service
  3. Set up Service Settings:
  1. Name the service
  2. Choose the service area, which is where the products are purchased and delivered (should be the same as the target country of the feed)
  1. Set up Delivery Time:
  1. Choose order cutoff time, which is the time of day that order must be placed by in order for processing to begin the same day
  2. Select handling time, which is the minimum number of time in business days that it takes to process an order and the maximum number of days it could potentially take.
  3. Add transit time, which is the possible range of business days that the service could take

Step 2: Additional Shipping Features

If you have a minimum order value for shipping, you need to set that up for each shipping service under Advanced Settings. You can reference Google’s instructions here.

Google also allows you to set a holiday shipping cutoff for orders that need to be placed before a specific date for them to be delivered by a certain holiday.

Step 3: Shipping Rates

Once you create a shipping service, you can create multiple shipping rate tables for that service:

  1. Select the plus button to add a new shipping rate table
  2. To choose what products you want the settings applied to, go to Affected Products
  1. Choose All Products for the service to be applied to every product
  2. To only apply the service to a specific group of products
  1. Select Filter products by shipping label
  2. Enter the values you added in the shipping_label attribute in the input field and click enter
  1. Enter a unique name for your table under Shipping rate name
  2. Create your table
  1. The table can either have a single rate for all orders OR
  2. You can create rules that are based on one or two of the following dimensions: price, destination (only for United States, Australia or Japan), weight or number of items
  3. Add the shipping cost

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For more details on adding a shipping cost and setting up shipping options, visit Google’s help article.

Once you set up your shipping settings, you’ll want to confirm that they are entered correctly. To do so, visit the Products page within your Merchant Center account. Next, select List. For the product that you want to check, click on the title and scroll to see the shipping information.

Conclusion

Shipping can get complicated. To avoid unnecessary Merchant Center errors, make sure you carefully read over Google’s requirements and recommendations before filling out your shipping settings.