Important Update: Google Shopping Feed Specification and Product Taxonomy

Google just announced some updates to their Shopping Feed Specifications and Product Taxonomy. Basically, requirements will become tighter and more detailed, aiming to further streamline product data feeds.

What are the main changes?

Feed Specs:

  • For detailed product descriptions (e.g. color and material) you can now use a section called Detailed Product Attributes and Item Groupings. It is recommended to provide values for ‘color’, ‘size’, ‘pattern’, ‘material’, ‘age group’, ‘gender’, ‘size type’ and ‘size system’ (if applicable to the product).
    detailed_product_data
    Examples for detailed product data
    Source: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/1347943

     

  • Requirements regarding GTINs (Global Trade Item Numbers) have been refined. These GTINs also include EAN (Europe, 13 numeric digits) and UPC (US, 12 numeric digits). You will have to use correct GTINs for a list of designated brands. You can get this list here. It will grow significantly over time.
  • Submission rules around ID attributes have been tightened to prevent use of invalid characters or sequences. A product id is required for all items in the data feed.
  • Shipping requirements will expand to more countries: Switzerland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Japan
    shipping_screen
    Display of shipping costs speficied in the [shipping] tag
  • Google Product Category IDs are introduced as an alternative to the Google Product Category path. You can now use a numeric value instead of having to add the whole category path.
    category_id
    Numeric category ID vs. category path
    (Source: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/188494#google_product_category)
  • US only: Units & Quantity Attributes can now also be submitted to support products sold in bulk or by volume

Product Taxonomy:

  • For a number of categories it is no longer required to provide a subcategory.
  • Most categories in Activewear have been merged with their non-active counterparts (e.g. “active shirts” is now simply “shirt”)
  • More subcategories were added for Food, Beverages & Tobacco and Mature
  • Other verticals have undergone significant rework, such as Arts & Crafts, Sporting Goods, to name a few. We suggest reading up on the guidelines for Google product categories for these.

When will these changes to into effect?

Most of these changes will go into effect by September 15 (worldwide), some of them already are  – so it would be wise to use the usually calmer summer months to implement these changes to your data feeds 😉 Enforcement for shipping costs will start a little later, in February 2016. Also note that changes in product taxonomy are simply recommended, not required.

For a detailed list of changes and enforcement dates read Google Merchant Center Help or the Google AdWords Blog.