Does manually managing your PLAs and Google Shopping Feed wind you up? Seem to spend half your time updating product spread sheets for upload into Google's Merchant Centre? Then why not take a step back.
Here's how we saved a client valuable time and money by creating a new Google product feed generator that could be managed from within their ecommerce platform.
What is it?
The Google Shopping Feed has an API which enables developers to programmatically manage data for upload to Google Shopping. Used to its full potential, this API allows you to query, insert, update and delete items in your Google Merchant Feed.
It has been always been notoriously difficult for merchants to get up and running with a manageable Google Shopping Feed. It is relatively simple for merchants to add products individually using Google's system, but almost impossible to manage once you exceed 20 products. Keeping on top of updates, including changes to inventory and prices updates can become a full-time job if managed manually, often resulting in overselling, stock outs and pricing errors.
Adding an automated feed is like climbing Mount Everest. No simple task, merchants will definitely need the help of an experienced web development company; no matter their ecommerce system. This also applies if you plan on using a third party service to manage your PLAs, as you will need to create a feed for them.
This was the case for our client who was attempting to manage nearly 1,000 different skus manually and spending more than half his working day doing so. Having set up a Google Merchant Account to run PLAs through their Google Adwords account, they had to manually update listings by uploading a CSV into the Merchant Centre Feed.
"It's taking me ages, is there no way to automate this?"
Yes. When our client came to us with this question we knew that creating a Google Shopping Feed management tool was the best option for the business. With over 1,000 products to list, this would be the most efficient solution to automate the creation of PLAs in Adwords.
Based on Google's Feed Specification for their industry we developed a management tool for OpenCart; our client's CMS. This defined attributes such as 'condition' and 'availability' with standardised values which would be identified by Google's API. These attributes would later enable the consumer to search and find items listed more easily. This enabled them to manage and schedule it automatically.
What does the Shopping Feed use?
Our client wanted to use their Google Shopping Feed to create Product Listing Ads or PLAs via their Adwords account. Unlike normal text ad campaigns, PLAs are image based and only appear when your ads are deemed relevant by Google.
To ensure that we created a relevant, quality data feed for our client it was imperative that we included as many details as possible. This includes the following list of attributes:
- id – separates unique products from ones with variations
- title – the name of the item
- description – relevant information but comprehensive
- feed URL – the URL for the feed
- product_category – selected from a predefined list of categories created by Google.
- condition – only 'new', 'used' or 'refurbished'
- price – include VAT and the GBP ISO code. When on sale, use the sale_price attribute
- availability – only 'in stock', 'available to order', 'out of stock' or 'preorder'
- product_identifier – this is a unique code that identifies the product. GTIN, MPN and EAN numbers are commonly used.
Automating the Shopping Feed
The Google Shopping Feed management tool we created enables even the least tech savvy user to add or remove items from the data feed with ease.
From the management tool our client could specify which attributes he wanted to copy across to all his products and which he wanted to specify manually. In this case 'condition', 'identifier_exists', 'out of stock status', 'brand' and 'Default Google Category' were copied to existing products.
I couldn't be happier. The Google Shopping Feed management tool has meant I spend less time on admin and more on growing the business! What more can you want? Paul Wilkinson, Printernet.