Google has long had a policy that requires merchants to keep their product prices consistent from their Google Shopping ads all the way through to their checkout. However, there are still companies that reel customers in with an attractive deal only to increase the price when they go to make a purchase.
Google has now announced that it will be suspending merchants that do this from 6 April 2021.
In its checkout guidelines, the company states: “People expect to pay the advertised price for your products. If the price of a product advertised in a Shopping ad or free product listing is different from the price shown in a customer’s shopping cart, that could create a negative experience for the customer and could result in the loss of a sale.”
It then goes on to clarify that a change in price will only be considered a problem if the cost increases. The price may be lowered with no repercussions if a promotion, such as a discount code, is applied at checkout.
Shipping costs can be submitted separately but, again, these need to be clear from the outset and shouldn’t increase at the checkout stage.
Any businesses that violate this policy will be given a 28-day warning that explains they must resolve the mismatch of prices or their account will be suspended.
How will Google monitor price inconsistencies?
In July 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported that a Google crawler had been adding products to and abandoning the carts of ecommerce sites. This is how the platform checks that its merchants are providing accurate pricing information.
The automated process allows the company to monitor whether a particular site is increasing the price of its products at checkout after attracting a customer through Google’s channels. If discrepancies are found on a particular site, a warning will be issued.
What does this mean for you?
If you run an ecommerce site, you need to make sure any prices customers are given at checkout match (or are less than) what’s been advertised in a Google Shopping ad or free product listing. So double and triple check your listings to ensure there aren’t any problems.
If there are any inconsistencies, it’s likely the search engine will be in touch, and you’ll have to rectify the problem within 28 days or your account will be suspended.
Google is trying to provide the best possible experience for its users, who will feel misled if they intend to buy a reasonably priced product only to see the cost shoot up at the checkout. Being consistent should work in the favour of your business, too, as it will help to reduce the risk of people abandoning their carts before making a purchase.