ANGRY Australian retailers have bombarded Google with complaints about new product price rules that could see them vanish from search results.
It follows Google’s decision to suspend merchant accounts for E-commerce sites that don’t include accurate shipping costs.
In January, Google set May 4 as the deadline for vendors to fix pricing anomalies because they were a major reason why shoppers abandoned online purchases at the last step.
A letter sent this week by Google warning retailers who don’t meet the new requirements of potential “disruption” to their rankings, sparked stern criticism on the Google Adwords forum.
“It seems somebody at Google has decided that this is a good idea but hasn’t thought about how to implement it at all,” one poster said.
“The deadline for adding shipping draws closer and Google seems to show no interest in helping with this problem they have created,” another protested.
Australian Retailers Disadvantaged
Unlike in the United States, Australian retailers cannot access shipping rates calculated automatically by freight companies in their Google Shopping merchant accounts.
Shipping price variations based on the weight, size and destination for Australian orders have set local retailers a huge task to update their listings in time.
They argue this gives US retailers an unfair advantage because they can meet the new rules easier than Australian E-commerce websites.
ROI.com.au chief technical officer Sean O’Neill said those who missed the deadline would be “taken down”.
“This is a significant change because it’s not an easy thing for many businesses to do,” he said.
“The level of detail Google is asking for is really intense. Some sites have thousands of products and they sell small items and large items. The shipping costs for a small item might be a dollar and a $1000 for a large item. Every single product has to be categorised in Google’s interface.
“For properly setup sites it’s a little easier, but for some of the older school ones, it’s going to be an absolute nightmare.”
Google’s response to the complaints so far has been muted.
Earlier this month, Google said it was “re-evaluating how we can best support you in specifying accurate shipping rates in Australia, and are also taking carrier-calculated shipping options into consideration.”
But E-commerce sites that have already been banished or face suspension from next week have received little reassurance.
Responding on the forum, community manager “Mini” said: “I’m in communication with the product teams. Regarding suspensions, all I can say is just hold on patiently for now.”
How We Can Help
With next Tuesday’s deadline looming, Sean O’Neill offered hope for Australian E-commerce websites that weren’t prepared for the changes and risked being switched off by Google.
He said ROI.com.au had developed a solution for medium to large online retailers with a wide range of products shipping right across the country.
“We can categorise them based on weight, size and distance to the shipping location. From that we can define an average cost for each of those categories,” he said.
“This is a semi-automated solution. It requires some custom thinking for each client but it can be rolled out within 24 hours. That makes it possible to help some online retailers who think it’s going to be impossible to get this fixed in time. But the reality is, Tuesday is a hard deadline. Businesses that don’t adapt will be losing sales straight away.”