Google Merchant Center product data specification update 2021

Posted on April 9, 2021 (Last Updated: March 20, 2023)

If you are a Google Merchant Center user you want to pay attention to a few important updates to the product data specification coming this year. 

In effect from 6th April 2021 is: 

A shopping cart with a chair inside with a 499 DKK pricetag on it

Checkout price enforcement
Previously Google has been checking if your prices on the SERP would match prices on the landing page. This check is now extended to also compare the checkout price to the price on the landing page. If a mismatch is found, between the landing page and the checkout, you will receive a warning message and have 28 days to resolve the issue with inconsistent prices - or face potential suspension of your account.

With consistent prices throughout the checkout process you will minimise the dropout through your sales funnel and increase your ROI of advertising with Google Merchant Center. 

Image of different shipping speed (1-2 days, 3-6 days and 10 days)

Region-specific delivery speed
With the new sub-attributes of the shipping attribute, you can specify custom delivery speeds on  a product level for specific regions, without the need of an additional delivery service. 

The new shipping sub-attributes apply to free listings and Shopping Ads, but not to Buy on Google. 

Learn more about the min_handling_time, max_handling_time attributes and account level delivery settings on the Google Merchant Center Help pages.

The new sub-attributes have already been added to the WakeupData templates - so you can start updating your product data straight away.

Image showing availability status of products (in stock, backorder and preorder)

Update the availability of your products to 'backorder'
Let your customers know, up front, if your products are backordered. With the availability attribute you can specify your as being in ‘backorder’ - at the same time you should use the the availability_date attribute to let your customers know when the product is back in stock. The availability_date attribute is also important when you set a product’s availability to ‘preorder’. 

This applies to free listings and Shopping Ads, but not to Buy on Google.

Image of different cloth sizes (maternity, petite, tall)

Additional values
Fashion e-tailers and other clothing merchants can now use the values 'big', 'tall' and 'plus' in the size_type attribute. It is now also allowed to use up to two values in the size_type attribute, for example 'petite maternity' or 'big and tall'. 

The value ‘plus’ mentioned above replaces the ‘oversize’ value, which is no longer accepted.
If you have been using the ‘oversize’ value for size_type, it is now time to update your product data.

Disallow cross-border for payment plan products
If you are listing products with the subscription_cost or installment attributes, those products can no longer be listed in multiple countries from a single product feed. To continue listing products with a payment plan cross-border you need to list them in feed for each individual country. 

If products with payment plans are targeted in more than one country, they will be disapproved.

This applies to free listings and Shopping ads in countries where installment or subscription_cost attributes are available.

In effect from 15th June 2021 is:

Provide unique combinations of brand and MPN to avoid disapprovals
To improve the quality of the data in your product feed, Google will now disapprove products using the same combination of brand and MPN if: 

  • multiple products with the same brand and mpn combination but different values for the item_group_id.
  • multiple products with the same brand and mpn combination and the same variant attributes, which could be colour, material, product_detail, condition, unit_pricing_measure, pattern, size, size_type, gender or multipack

From 6th April you will start seeing product level warnings in Merchant Center Diagnostics, and from 15th June it will lead to disapproval if the issues are unresolved.

Globe with arrows on it

Add time zones to date-time attributes
If your feed contains date-time attributes like availability_date, sale_price_effective_date or expiration_date but are lacking time zones in the values, Google will default to the UTC time zone for your products. 

If your date-time attributes are missing the time zone information, the WakeupData Transformation Engine is the perfect tool to add the required time zone to your data, without the need to talk to developers or IT departments. 

Note that the above behaviour does not apply to promotion specific attributes like promotion_effective_dates or promotion_display_dates.

Learn more about time and date formatting

In effect from 15th September 2021 is:

Provide shipping country sub-attribute if missing
Adding additional countries to your primary feed settings will allow you to show products in more than one country. However, you can also add shipping information per product, this will require adding the shipping attribute’s country sub-attribute on all products to avoid disapproval from 15th September 2021. It could look something like this: shipping(country:region:price), or as a real life example: shipping(US::6.49 USD).

Product level warnings will already be available in your Google Merchant Center’s Diagnostics page. 

As mentioned above the WakeupData Google Shopping Ads template has already been updated to reflect these changes. If you have any questions about the changes or are struggling with the warnings in your Google Merchant Center’s Diagnostics page, feel free to reach out to the WakeupData team.


Written by Brian Skov

With a background in developing ecommerce solutions and websites for commercial customers and a few years in the window industry our Senior Marketing Manager is well rounded in the world of web, SEO and ecommerce.

Topics:Google Ads

About the WakeupData Blog

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