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Help, advice and food for thought on a range of topics to help you market your brand better online.

Making products available on Google Shopping (via Google Merchant Cente) is an almost essential part of any e-commerce strategy. Doing so is simple thanks to the official app created by shopify available here.

However there is one error that many people hit, and it looks a little something like this:

shopify google shopping products error

This error is pretty simple to fix, yet requires a good overall understanding of the issues involved.

Firstly, the error is Google itself rejecting the products in the data feed due to lack of information. As a general rule (the term 'depending on your product' means that there are different rules for a small amount of products), we need to aim to have two out of the following fields to send to Google: BRAND / GTIN / MPN. In an ideal world however we'll actually have all 3, as the more information we're sending Google, the more they can recommend us to buyer's searches. BRAND / GTIN / MPN. In an ideal world however we'll actually have all 3, as the more information we're sending Google, the more they can recommend us to buyer's searches.

BRAND

First of all we're going to want to enter a brand or as Shopify refers to it, a 'Vendor'. Realistically, we should see this field as compulsorily - in most cases the vendor will be obvious, but in other cases you should be able to place your own brand here if it is custom sourced or made by you, or you can simply track down a wholesaler for more information. Even if you don't want to show this in the store itself you can still fill in the field.

To complete the field, we simply go to the product edit page and edit the 'vendor' field.

MPN

Now that we've got our vendor information in, we're going to look at the 'MPN' field. To send our products to Google Shopping we'll need either this or the GTIN, but preferrably both.

MPN stands for 'manufacturer part number' and as the name suggests is the number created by the manufacturer to reference the model. For example the MPN for a Macbook Air might be 'MC969LL/A' which is a number created by Apple to identify the exact model of their range of macbooks.

Tracking down an MPN is a little less clear-cut than finding the barcode (GTIN), but with a little detective work even the hardest MPN should be able to be tracked down. What your'e looking for is a code that is also used by competitors to indentity the same product. A quick look through product catalogues, wholesale receipts and then Google should help you come up trumps.

For cases when you don't have a GTIN or an MPN you can resort to using your own SKU or code in the MPN field - it isn't ideal but will allow you to list the item in Google Shopping.

GTIN

A GTIN stands for 'Global Trade Item Number' and despite being called 'Global' there are different types of GTIN numbers used around the world. To keep things really simply, it's the barcode that we can generally find on the packaging (when we see the term UPC we are referring to the same type of code, so for this situation they are one in the same). For example, the MPN number for a macbook Air may be 'MC969LL/A' which is a number created by Apple to identify the exact model of their range of macbooks. The GTIN is separate, and is the number appearing on the barcode on the box.

Entering the GTIN: slow way

The GTIN can be entered without the need for the Google Shopping app, straight into the product page itself; simply use the 'Barcode' field.

Entering the GTIN: fast way

Fast way: For the fast way, we can use Shopify's new batch editor. To access it, click 'products' in the admin area and then the 'export' button at the top of the page. You can then click 'start editing your products' and you'll be presented with an editible spreadsheet of your product data (which products show depend on your selection on the previos screen).

If the barcode field isn't visible, you'll need to click 'add fields' to add it to the column headers, and then you can simply start editing products one by one. This is much quicker than the previous option as it doesn't require savng and reopening each individual product, and is a nice feature from Shopify.

Entering the GTIN: super crazy fast way

Here's a little inside tip, and it involves purchasing a barcode reader.

Although you may not own a barcode reader as you do not have a POS setup, they are very handy for the above task. A barcode reader is simply an input device, and for little financial outlay (a cheap little USB one will do fine) it's a real timesaver. All you need to do is to repeat the above steps, highlight the relevant barcode field you want to edit with your mouse and scan the barcode of the corresponding product. Hey presto- the number will appear in the field. Now you can practice your supermarket self-checkout skills and fly through your product catalogue at a fraction of the time.

Once completed, you should be able to upload your products to Google Shopping without any errors, plus have a higher quality data feed as a result.