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Part I: Is your website ready for Google Shopping?

If you look back to Christmas 2014 (which feels like it was only yesterday and at the same time a lifetime past) did you purchase any of your Christmas gifts online? You aren’t alone if you did; many people shop online for the convenience; they don’t have to make the dreaded trip to the crowded shopping mall and it can be done in their own time (like when you’re sitting at home on a Wednesday evening and there’s nothing good to watch on TV). Many people also shop online because they believe they have an opportunity to purchase items at a cheaper price. Whatever the reason, online shopping is undeniably increasing. You want a part of that. But before you jump in head first, there are some vital aspects you must consider. The question is: is your website ready for it? If you don’t have the proper features in place, potential customers will quickly lose interest and choose to shop online elsewhere. Here we take a look at what you should be doing to your website in order to make the most of Google Shopping.

Now in our current digital age, privacy is a word on everyone’s lips. You have an obligation to ensure your customer’s private and confidential information is in your safe hands. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner provides plenty of useful facts in regards to how you and your business should handle the sensitive and private information of your customers. While Google Shopping doesn’t have any specific rules for this, it’s obviously important to comply with Australian law. The Privacy fact sheet 7: Ten steps to protect people’s personal information, which was last updated in April 2012, guides you through the following points:

  • Only collect the information you need
  • Don’t collect personal information about an individual just because you think that information may come in handy later
  • Tell people how you are going to handle the personal information you collect about them
  • Thing about using personal information for a particular purpose
  • Think before disclosing personal information
  • If people ask, give them access to the personal information you hold about them
  • Keep personal information secure
  • Don’t keep information you no longer need or that you no longer have to retain
  • Keep personal information accurate and up to date
  • Consider making someone in your organisation or agency responsible for privacy

To give the impression of transparency on your behalf (you as the business owner and your business as a whole) it is also worthwhile educating your customers on their own privacy rights. This not only tells your customers that you are aware of your responsibilities when it comes to handling their private information, but you’re also aware of what they should be doing; it gives the impression that you’re looking out for their best interests, which you are! The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has a useful document for this exact purpose titled Privacy fact sheet 8: Ten steps to protect your personal information. While you’re at it, familiarise yourself with Australia’s National Privacy Principles too.

There are many items you cannot sell on Google Shopping. To give you a basic break down there are two categories of items which you are unable to sell:

Category One – Not Allowed

These are for legal reasons – counterfeit goods, copyright infringements, safety standards, service restrictions, and the sale of free items and gambling. This is mostly self-explanatory, but there are some service restrictions. This relates to promotion of business services, such as a plumber or products that require a subscription e.g. a mobile phone with a contract.

Category Two – Restricted

Adult images are not allowed, but adult products are. Pharmacy industry related businesses are required to have Google certification to be able to run and even then it will be running on a restricted basis.

If you find you need further clarification on the above, for more information simply visit Google’s support site.

If you find you have posted an item and then receive notification that the listing has been disallowed, often times the reason is listed in the account and will tell you if it can, or can’t, be rectified. Once the problem has been resolved, the account ban will need to be lifted by Google. For example, if your site gets malware, this fails Google’s Safety and Security Policy and will cause the disapproval of the account. Once the malware is removed, Google will have to be contacted and verify the site.

Your website must also follow Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance. Your customers’ information needs to be protected, especially when you are taking payments on your website. Google requires sites that are secure while taking payments on site. There are two ways to achieve this; either send the customer offsite to a secure payment platform, e.g. PayPal. The second way is to get a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate. Once you have the safety certificate, you will see this during your check out:

Your website must also clearly display the Terms of Sale. These are:

Payment – this looks at how the clients’ pay, for example, ‘we take all our payments through PayPal’.

Delivery – this is how your customer will be sent their new purchase, including shipping rates.

Returns – What are the terms of returns, what time frame and the condition of the item (original wrapping, etc.).

These need to have their own tabs on the page to pass Google’s Policies.

That ain’t all folks! While the information above is extensive, it does not cover everything your website needs in order to successfully run Google Shopping. But therein lays the great thing about Google Shopping! In passing and certifying your website through these certificates and safety procedures, your customers can know, full well, exactly how safe they truly are when they shop with you. Ease and peace of mind will guarantee loyal, happy customers. Our next blog will take a look at Part II in regards to what your website needs to do to be ready for Google Shopping. Also don’t forget to mark the 25th February in your calendar for our Optimise Webinar ‘The Insider’s Guide to Google Shopping’ by simply clicking here. We can’t wait to see you there and fill you in on all our insider tips and tricks.