Google announced changes to the Google Shopping Feed Specification today. Here is a review of the updates and deadlines to be aware of:
Products Without Unique Identifiers
In the biggest change, Google has added the ’identifier exists’ attribute for merchants selling custom goods and other products that don’t have unique identifiers like brand names or MPN codes. In categories where unique product identifiers are required but don’t exist for an item, you enter FALSE for the ‘identifier exists’ attribute.
Important deadlines: U.S. merchants currently exempted from using unique product identifiers need to update their feeds with the ‘identifier exists’ attribute by July 15, 2013. Merchants in all other countries need to update their feeds by September 16, 2013. Account level exemptions will not be supported after these dates.
For products sold in custom multipacks — like 2-for-1 packs of toothpaste, for example — there is a new ‘multipack’ attribute to indicate the number of identical products in a merchant-defined multipack or bundle.
Google now recommends using images with at least 800 pixels in height and width to ensure your images look good on high-res displays.
Description & Color
You’ll also want to review the guidance for the Description and Color attributes, which Google has updated “to make them more precise and actionable”. For example, under Description, Google advises, “Also include details about the item’s most visual attributes, such as shape, pattern, texture, and design, since we may use this text for finding your item.”
Google has also updated their unique product identifier requirements beyond adding the ‘identifier exists’ attribute, so all merchants should review those carefully. Here’s a link to the handy Summary of Attribute Requirements which also links to the detailed product feed specifications.
There is now dedicated support for energy efficiency labels and unit pricing for merchants targeting countries in the European Union and Switzerland. And merchants promoting non-family safe items on family-safe websites can now tag individual items as non-family safe.