Now that Google Shopping listings are free it is more important than ever to make sure you are submitting your product data to Google Merchant Center. Even if you don’t plan to spend one cent for Google Shopping ads you can now gain visibility in Google Shopping by simply having your products in and approved in Merchant Center.
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Google Shopping App from Shopify
Price: Free included with Shopify
Great to get started.
Relatively simple to setup your products and get them listed in Merchant Center.
Easily launch Google Smart Shopping campaigns.
Limited ability to customize your feed.
You will only be running Smart shopping campaigns for the campaigns you create in the marketing section of Shopify.
DIY model. You will need to setup the feed and maintain it on an ongoing basis. The amount of maintenance and ongoing optimization will depend on how often your product catalog changes.
Google Sheets inside Merchant Center
If you have a small catalog that is static you can choose to build your feed using a template inside Google Sheets. Google has instructions on how to do this https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/2364758
Setup is easy as long as you are comfortable with spreadsheets.
The template sheet provided by Google provides all of the attributes available to include in the feed and gives pre-built dropdown lists of applicable attributes for some fields.
Easy to make updates and test optimizations
Updated data can be sent to Merchant Center almost instantly
Not a scalable solution if you have a lot of products or your product data changes frequently. For example if you inventory levels or prices change daily or several times a day you will need to update the feed. You can of course use automatic updates for inventory and price changes but you want that clean optimized feed.
You can’t easily use this feed across other channels.
It is difficult to apply automatic rules and optimizations that could be scaled using a 3rd party tool.
Manual creation in Merchant Center
Google is making it easier and easier to get your products online and eligible for shopping. Recently the made an update that allows you to manually create products inside Merchant Center. The entire process is similar to building out a product in Shopify.
Very simple and fairly easy to use.
You have the ability/option to add every possible feed attribute.
Easy to edit your titles, descriptions, product types, etc.
By far the most time consuming and tedious process. This is 100% not scalable unless your product catalog doesn’t change.
You can’t this product data across other channels.
Not possible to apply automatic rules and optimizations that could be scaled using a 3rd party tool.
3rd party Shopify apps
There are numerous options for 3rd party Shopify apps that help create, compile, customize and submit your product data to Merchant Center. Here is a starting point in your search https://apps.shopify.com/search?q=product+feed
Price: Free – several hundreds of dollars per month depending on features and catalog size.
Most of these apps have a simple setup process
Made for Shopify specifically
Depending on the app you choose you may have a lot of customization abilities for optimizing your product feed.
Sometimes less customization and power user options than 3rd party tools.
Most are DIY model so you will need to handle the setup and management of the feed.
3rd party feed tools not specific to Shopify
You don’t need to limit yourself to what you find in the Shopify App store. There are a lot of great tools available that are not exclusive to Shopify but are the leading providers of product feed tools and services.
Price: Wide range from $30/month to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month depending on features, catalog size & services provided by the vendor.
Complete control of your feed. You can customize as much or as little as you want.
Use the feed across channels e.g. Google, Facebook, Bing etc.
Option to have the feed created, maintained and optimized for you.
Can be over whelming and time consuming to get your initial setup completed if you choose to do it yourself.
Costs tend to be higher than Shopify apps and obviously more than the free options.