GOOGLE - What do I need to do to properly list my Apparel items in Google Products (or show variants on non-apparel items)? 8/2/2011

As you probably know by now, Google has made some fairly major changes in their requirements for listing Apparel items in Google Products. These changes currently are limited to Apparel items but may someday be expanded beyond Apparel. And many items that aren't apparel can potentially benefit from some of the possible changes below. This writeup is to help users understand what's required and how they can make the changes through our Feed Wizards service including handling variants (combinations of size, color, pattern, material). Google has an article at http://www.google.com/support/merchants/bin/answer.py?answer=1347943 which details how they want to see items listed, but it doesn't deal with HOW you are to get the data there. Not only will getting your data in compliance keep you listed after Google's deadline (currently September 22nd), but many others may not comply so there may be less competition, and adding variants could potentially increase your traffic.

There is a lot of information below and if you don't understand it all, or simply want to have us help get your apparel items up and going quickly, we have a service at http://www.yourstorewizards.com/google-products-variant-setup.html where you can purchase and we help you through the process as quickly as possible. You will still need to load some data or give us logic for those fields, but we can help you get it all worked out so you are 100% compliant.

New Field Requirements:

There are many fields that are now required and many that are optional. Below is a quick summary of the fields and then we will discuss point by point how each can be filled out through our Feed Wizards feeds to Google.

1. Google-Product-Category (required for all items under Apparel & Accessories, Media and Software categories in Google's Taxonomy http://www.google.com/support/merchants/bin/answer.py?answer=160081)
2. Brand (required for Apparel items)
3. Age-Group (required for Apparel items): Must be either "Kids" or "Adult"
4. Gender (required for Apparel items): Male, Female or Unisex are the only acceptable values
5. Color (required for Apparel items)
6. Size (required for items under 'Apparel & Accessories > Clothing' or 'Apparel & Accessories > Shoes' categories)
7. Pattern (optional)
8. Material (optional)
9. Item-Group-ID (required for Variant items): This is an identifier to tie all variant items together. So the id for each variant would be different but the item-group-id for all variants of one item would be the same.
10. ID (required): This isn't a new requirement but it must be adjusted for variant items so it has a distinct identifier.
11. Title (required): This isn't a new requirement that it have a name, but the name for variant items must now include the variant options as part of the name.
12. Price (required): This isn't a new requirement but for variations that have price adjustments the adjusted price must be displayed.
13. Link (required): Not a new requirement but for variant items, Google recommends the links are coded to auto select the options based on which item the user clicked on.
14. Image-Link (required): This isn't a new requirement but what is new is that if your items varies by Color then you must have an image that displays that particular Color

How do I load these fields?

First, as a general rule, many of these fields can be loaded just like any other field in our system. You can load the data in a field directly on the item page (we will mention defaults but any field name can be remapped to be used), or the data can be loaded on direct containing parent sections (so the section that at the lowest level contains the products themselves), or we can load default values that apply when the data isn't loaded, or we can work through logic to figure it out based on other information (small setup charge may apply). If you do load the values on the containing section pages, please let us know so we can adjust the feed to look there for the data (it won't by default).

The first batch of fields, you can load yourself or let us know logic, etc. The later fields related to item variants does require a Google Products Variant Setup fee ASSUMING that you have actual variant items. If your items do not need variants (don't have options to determine size/color or those fields aren't required for your item type), then you can manually load the extra fields for color, size, pattern and material as needed.

Standard Fields (not variant related):

1. Google-Product-Category: This can be loaded in a field called "google-product-category" (our default we look for), or a field called "fw-category" (in preparation for our new categorization system, just let us know if you load this one). Any other field can be used as long as it contains Google's taxonomy data and is mapped in the Feed Wizards dashboard, or let us know and we can map it for you.
2. Brand: This would generally be loaded in a "brand" or we will use "manufacturer" if brand isn't loaded.
3. Age-Group: This field you will need to notify us and we can add the field in the feed as well as what field (typically age-group) you want us to pull from or what default you want loaded. We don't load by default currently so we can avoid issues where a store may have already loaded an age-group field but it doesn't match the exact data Google requires.
4. Gender: This field you will need to notify us and we can add the field in the feed as well as what field (typically gender) you want us to pull from or what default you want loaded. We don't load by default currently so we can avoid issues where a store may have already loaded a gender field but it doesn't match the exact data Google requires.

Variant information:

5-8. Color, Size, Pattern, Material: These fields can be loaded in fields by those names BUT since these are related to variants, they also can be driven off the product options. Color and Size are most common and our logic would build the variants based on your options. They key is that we need to know which option sets are Size, Color, etc. So if you're option is titled "Select a color" we'll need to know that maps to color and which options map to size, etc. So if you do have options that would map to any of these fields for variants, we HIGHLY recommend you contact us and use our Google Products Variant Setup option below so we can send you a list of all your option names that we have. We will send you a spreadsheet with the options and you will then mark each as Color, Size, Pattern, Material, Ignore or Drop. Color/Size/Pattern/Material are so we know where those options will map into the Google fields, Ignore would be for options that you want us to simply ignore when sending items to Google Products and Drop are for items that you want to drop entirely from Google Products if they have that option set. If you don't need variants, then you can simply load these fields with the appropriate data and we will use them and you can ignore steps 9-14 because you won't be using variants.

9. Item-Group-ID: We will automatically set this up for items that have variants.
10. Title: We will automatically adjust the title to append the variant values at the end of the name. If the particular property isn't part of the variant (for example if all shirts were color Red), then that portion wouldn't be added to the name.
11. ID: We will automatically append your product id with the variant values to make distinct identifiers.
12. Price: We will automatically adjust the price based on the options for variant items.
13. Link: We can automatically adjust the link to change your options when the customer lands on the page. This does require installation in your store of custom coding and we do recommend also adding a canonical tag on the item pages to avoid duplicate content issues.
14. Image-Link: If you have color variations then you will need seperate images for each color variation. How these are loaded vary per store so if you qualify, let us know and we can discuss options. There can be extra costs involved but we will do our best to minimize the work and cost if at all possible.

I'm ready to get started, what does the Feed Wizards Google Products Variant setup include and how do I get it going?

1. Simply contact us to let us know you want the Google Products Variant Setup, or you can purchase at http://www.yourstorewizards.com/google-products-variant-setup.html
2. We will work with you to help figure out how to get the Google Product Category, Brand, Age Group and Gender Information. We won't directly load the information in the store but will help set up mappings, rules, etc.
3. We will give you a spreadsheet of all your options so you can properly mark them to the appropriate fields. We will then use this data to build your variants in your feed.
4. We will adjust the item_group_id, title, id and price values to include the variant information as needed.
5. If purchased we can install code to auto select your options when the user visits (we will also adjust the landing page urls) and we can also install canonical tags to avoid duplicate content issues which Google or others may see with the parameters on the URLs.