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Optimizing Google Shopping: Why you shouldn’t use shopping cart plugins to feed to Google Shopping.

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September 6, 2020

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Kalvin Mizzi

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There are two main reasons why shopping cart plugins are not the best strategy for your Google Shopping feed:

  1. Does not pass Cost of Goods Sold
  2. Limit of 1 Google Shopping listing per product

Cost of Goods Sold

If you are care at all to pass the cost of goods sold to be used in Google Adwords or Analytics, usually the plugins available in shopping carts will not pass this.

Let’s look at an example.

Shopify

Shopify clearly has “Cost per item” as a field in the product edit screen. For whatever reason, Shopify doesn’t pass this to Google Shopping despite having the data stored.

This means that when you are in the “Products” screen in your adwords account for your shopping campaigns, the Cost of Goods Sold data will be blank.

Limit of 1 Google Shopping Listing Per Product

Most Google Shopping plugins will only support 1 listing per product. In a perfect world, this would be ok, since Google Shopping should not have duplicate “listings” for the same product. However, they do.

Let’s take a look at an example:

If you search for the product “MicroJig GR-100” on Google Shopping, you will see multiple results for the same product. How Google Shopping works is that if a Seller lists a product with a GTIN that is the same as other sellers, or in some cases a Brand + Part Number combination that is the same as other sellers, Google creates a “listing page”. A listing page can be seen in the results where there is an option to “Compare prices from x+ stores”

Clicking on this link will go to the “listing page” which is a comparison of offers between all sellers who matched with the identifier for the product.

Now as a Seller, wouldn’t you want to be represented on all of these “listing pages”?

If you use a shopping cart plugin, you can’t.

Solution: Google Sheets Feed

So if you can’t use a plugin, how do you get your products to appear on Google Shopping AND address the two aforementioned issues?

You can simply set up a Google Sheet that Google Shopping will use to read information from.

Within Google Merchant Center, simply click on the “+” button under Products->Feeds to set up a new Google Shopping Feed.

A good reference for all the required fields and optional fields that you can include in the Sheet can be found here: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/7052112?hl=en

Be sure to include the “cost_of_goods_sold field”.

To address the issue of multiple listings for a single product, here is what you can do:

  1. For each “listing” for a product, make sure you have a unique “id”
  2. Search Google Shopping manually for your product, find all the listings that exact matches to your product that have the “Compare prices from x+ stores” link.
  3. Click on the link, and look for the GTIN
  4. Create a row for the listing in the Google Sheet and fill in the “gtin” field with that value
  5. If the listing does not have a GTIN, you can use the combination of Brand and Part Numbers on the Google Sheet to match the listing.

Follow the Google Merchant Center guide to make sure that Google Shopping is automatically grabbing your Google Sheet data on a scheduled basis. Here is a useful article on setting this up:

https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/1219255?hl=en#:~:text=Select%20Products%20from%20the%20navigation,and%20location%20of%20your%20feed.

Some of the topics you will encounter in this blog deal with situations such as this where as a seller, you need to develop a workaround to best optimize for a third party system. In this case, the following third party limitations can be observed:

  • Google Shopping does not have good control over handling duplicates in their catalog or verifying UPC codes (GTIN)
  • Shopping cart plugins (such as Shopify) do not properly account for the Google Shopping situation
  • Shopping cart plugins do not pass Cost of Goods Sold to Google Shopping

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Kalvin Mizzi

Online Seller, Finance Geek, Developer

Kalvin Mizzi has over 20 years experience in the E-commerce industry.  He holds an Economics degree from University of Toronto, where he graduated with Honors, and is a self-taught programmer and entrepreneur.

Kalvin started his career in the real estate development industry, raising equity/debt, financial modeling, and sales/brokerage.

He is passionate about systems and helping other E-commerce sellers.

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