Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Google's Top 3 Feed Changes to Review by September Deadline

In the past several months, Google Merchant Center has been enforcing more datafeed requirements in a serious effort to provide shoppers with a 'high quality shopping experience." This is an opportunity for retailers to strengthen their presence on Google Product Search and increase the flow of free traffic from this priceless channel.

To help you get that competitive edge, and more importantly, to avoid getting your Google Merchant account suspended, review your Google feed and make sure you are complying with Google Merchant Center's three latest requirement changes below.

If you're a GoDataFeed retailer, look at your validation reports which will produce warnings or errors for many of the below listed requirements.

3 Key Google Datafeed Changes:

  1. Unique Identifier Requirement, as stated in our June posting; Google Enforcing New Requirements - Is Your Google Feed Ready? merchants will need to provide 2 out of 3 data points: accurate Brand/Manufacturer, MPNs or UPC codes (or ISBNs for books). Only apparel and one-of-a-kind product retailers will be exempt from this requirement.
  2. Google's Newest Requirements: As stated in our July posting, Get your Google Product Search Feed Ready by Sept. Deadline, the following data will now be required 'Google Product Category', 'Product Type' (recommended) , 'Availability' fields, 'Images' (300x300 pixels or larger; no thumbnails or logos).

    Important Note to Apparel & Fashion Merchants: As of Sept. 22nd, you will need to provide variant information for size, color, gender and age group; learn more on Google's Tips for Submitting Apparel Products

  3. Shipping and Tax Information Requirements- Be sure to include tax and shipping information by Sept. 1st, 2011. This pricing data can be set through either your Google Merchant Center and/or item-level through your datafeed (item-level overrides the Merchant Center data). Google has already extended their deadline from June 6th until September 1st, so make sure your shipping and tax data is good to go.

    Important Note: Merchants not including accurate tax and shipping information may cause Google to disapprove their feeds. They are also permitting estimates for tax/shipping information. This rule applies to Google US, UK, France and Germany feeds.
Google Merchant Center Best Practices

As, noted in Google's article, Providing High Quality Data, to maximize your Google Product Search results and improve the shopper experience, you should follow Google's tips on improving data quality so that the product data, such as pricing, stock status and variant data, listed on Google Product Search is identical to the data on your site.

  • Check Data Quality: you should be checking the 'Data Quality' tab in your Google Merchant Center Account to ensure your feeds are up to par.
  • Keep Data Fresh: Make sure to submit your Google feed on a daily basis (through GoDataFeed, you can do this in Step 5 'Schedule Submissions')
  • Variant Data: If you have product variants, defined by Google as versions of the same product which vary by color, material, patterns or sizes, Google recommends you submit one item per variant. If you're an apparel merchant, this is a requirement. Learn more about Product Variants.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Back-to-School Shoppers Spending 40% More Online

Even though the economy is still impacting spending, the typical online, back-to-school shopper will spend an average of 40% more than the in-store shopper, according to the National Retail Federation's 'Back-to-School Trends 2011 Survey conducted with BIGResearch.

That's an average of $850 versus the in-store $603 spend, and a total projected spend of $68.8 billion, for grades K-12 and college combined.

Back-to-School Trends

  • 40% more spent online is a stark reminder that online retailers need to optimize and maximize all available shopping channels
  • Today's back-to-school shopper is seeking more value, quality and service; not just the lowest price
  • 69% of shoppers are comparison shopping for bargains online, according to a Pricegrabber survey; good news for retailers looking to increase exposure
  • 90% of shoppers consider prices and discounts a top priority in choosing a retailer for school supplies in an Accenture survey

Retailer Lessons

  • Value vs Price Consumers are extremely focused on value versus price alone, so retailers take this opportunity to offer value-centric promotions & sales
  • Promote Often 50% of shoppers will be shopping more often to take advantage of back-to-school sales and about one-third will be shopping one to two weeks before school starts
  • Beyond the Basics While Back-to-School shopping includes school supplies, apparel, shoes and electronics, college students and their parents will be shopping for dorm room or apartment related furniture and accessories, food, personal care products and gift cards (see Total Back-to-College Spending 2011 below)

Ready to increase traffic and sales?

View GoDataFeed's Demo or sign up for a 30-day trial and we'll help get you started with 2 free shopping feed setups.

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