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Google Merchant Center

Using a Shopping Feed with Google

They’re everywhere, even if you don’t know it! We’re talking about product or shopping feeds, which are an invisible part of your favourite online stores. 

While you may not see them as an eCommerce buyer, they can be easy to miss for marketers, too, even though they’re handy for store owners! We want to take the mystery out of the product/shopping feed.

Understanding Shopping Feeds

So, what are product or shopping feeds?

In their simplest explanation, product data feeds (aka product feeds or shopping feeds) are CSV, TXT or XML files that contain a lot of product information. This information is used by product marketing channels like Amazon, Google and Facebook to process merchant product data to display product listings later.

A product data feed can be understood as a file that includes a list of data in text form, as well as the attributes from your eCommerce store. The product feed file will consist of product details that are uniquely shown, advertised or contrasted online.

The fields typically included in a product data feed include the product’s title, description, price, size, image and identifier. Some complex feeds can consist of different languages and currencies, ad copy, customized Google labels, social recommendations, product ratings and more! The place you want your feed to show up will determine what type of data you should include.

Why shopping feeds are useful

One thing to consider is that product feeds are typically required to submit product data to shopping channels.

That’s how many eCommerce retailers use product feeds. Basically, they’re used to move product data between two different places. Technically, there’s nothing terrible about submitting unoptimized product data if you have to.

But we feel obliged to mention that there’s a deeper meaning behind your product or shopping feeds. This fact is actual because shopping channels and marketplaces can often use your product data as indicators as to the quality of your ad campaigns.

Some tracks may draw from your feed data to conclude whether or not to show your product for a particular search query. And obviously, you want this answer to be ‘yes’ most, if not all of the time! 

Your product or shopping feed can then be seen as a tool to drive your eCommerce campaigns’ success.

There are a lot of benefits that come with having an optimized product feed. Here are a few top features:

  • Better Quality Scores. Channels can only use your product data when their algorithms and complex systems ultimately device which listings are shown to shoppers. Therefore, what you include in your product feed can make a world of difference. 
  • Accuracy of your data. Have you double-checked that your product listings align with your store data? Look at your stock levels, price updates and more. If not, this could damage your campaign. 
  • Flexible product data. Don’t forget that you’ll need to stick to best practices to gain more conversions. Using a product feed allows you to have some flexibility over your product data. You can change, move around and enhance your store data to leverage your web traffic better. 

Who should use a Shopping Feed?

Let’s put it this way: If you sell products online, you should start using a shopping feed or product feed if you haven’t already started using them.

Now, you’ll need to decide if you want to manage product feeds manually or using an automated system or API.

You’ll need to understand the implications of each method before deciding which one works best for you. 

Types of product feeds

  1. Manual product feeds with spreadsheets. You’ll have to manage your shopping feed data using a manually updated spreadsheet on Excel/Google Sheets. Every time you make a change, you’ll need to re-upload your file to each channel. 

This is best for small-scale sellers with a low variety and volume of stock.

2. Using content API for direct product feeds. You’ll need to set up a connection between your web store host and the channel you’re selling on. Some examples of this include Shopify and Bigcommerce, to name a few. This is a quick way to connect to media easily. The negative to this is that you can’t customize or optimize your data much, and it will go out exactly as it is listed in your store. 

This is a good option for new sellers who don’t know much about product feed optimization or lack time available for this. 

3. Automated product feeds using tools/apps. This is the ideal way to save time and effort while simplifying the whole process. What you’re looking for here is a product feed optimization tool or app that is affordable and scales easily with your potential. Initially, you don’t need something too complicated.

Automated product feeds are best for sellers with a large variety of products. This is also the preferred method for sellers with seasonal/changing effects and those interested in selling on multiple channels at once.

It’s important to remember that your feed isn’t optimized for anyone channel – it’s optimized for your store.

Using a product feed with Google Merchant Center

Did you know that Google has a dedicated service known as Google Merchant Center? It’s a specialized tool that focuses entirely on your shopping and product feed data. You can use it to help make your ads ready for Google Shopping ads and other Google services.

You can find out more about the Google Merchant Center here. 

One of the many benefits of signing up to the Google Merchant Center is that you’ll be able to set up your own Google Shopping Feed. You’ll need to set up a primary feed to get going.

A primary feed is the central, necessary data source that Merchant Center will use to show off your products on Google. It will need to meet Google’s product data specification and policies.

Product or Shopping data that does not meet the Google Merchant Center requirements can be adjusted using some advanced feed features.

Google Shopping
Google Shopping

Using a Shopping Feed for Google

Some of the things you can use primary feeds for is adding or removing product data, setting language/country targeting, and implementing feed rules for your data. You can only add or remove products using a primary feed. 

Other things that you can alter in your primary feed include:

  • Feed destinations.
  • Your primary feed name.
  • Your input method.
  • The file name.
  • The country of sale.
  • The language of your product data and more.

After you have added detailed information to your Primary feed, you can view and manage your newly created feed in the “Feeds” section of your Google Merchant Centre account. You will use this feed to add listings to your Google Shopping Feed.

With Google Shopping Feed and Merchant centre, you also have the option to add supplemental feeds. These can provide extra data that you can connect to an existing data set. They cannot be used as standalone shopping feeds. An additional feed works best when connected to your primary feed, linked with it’s ID attributes.

You can find out more about creating a Google Shopping feed here. 

It’s a good time to consider using ShoppingFeeder and it’s Google Shopping extension. We’ll take the hard work out of listing your products on product feeds.

Google Merchant Center
Google Merchant Center

Conclusion

If you didn’t know what a Product feed or shopping feed was, you’re not alone! However, the fact is that if you’re an eCommerce merchant or advertiser, you need to be listing your products using a product feed. 

We can assure you that you’ll be missing out if you’re not updated! 

There are many options in doing this, including manually updating your document, using an API to help you out, or even fully automating the process. You should consider the scale and amount of items sold to decide which of these methods would work best for you.

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