Google will soon start to take action against sites that show a different price at checkout than the one provided through Google Merchant Center.
It’s Google Merchant Center policy for retailers to maintain consistency between prices provided to Google and prices offered to customers.
Google’s price enforcement efforts previously involved reviewing the accuracy between a retailer’s Merchant Center product data and their landing pages.
Until now Google has not checked whether the pricing remains accurate when the product is added to a customer’s cart.
In theory the price on a landing page could match the one in Merchant Center, and then suddenly increase with hidden fees when a customer adds it to their cart.
That’s a form of deceptive pricing which goes against Merchant Center policies, but it has not been strictly enforced up to this point.
Google emphasizes how important it is to maintain consistent and accurate pricing:
“Consistent and accurate pricing is one of the most important factors shoppers take into considerations when making a purchase. If the product’s price at checkout is higher than the price shown in an ad, free product listing, or on a product landing page, shoppers are more likely to abandon the purchase.”
Stronger Enforcement is Coming
Google is giving retailers advance notice about a change coming on April 6, 2021.
On April 6, Google will begin to review and enforce price accuracy between data in Merchant Center product feeds and the price shown at checkout.
This is in addition to Google continuing its usual practice of reviewing the price accuracy of landing pages.
If Google finds that a price provided for a product is higher at checkout than the price provided on the landing page then the retailer will receive a warning.
Following the warning the retailer will have 28 days to resolve the discrepancy, otherwise their Merchant Center account will be subject to suspension.
To be clear on what Google expects out of retailers in terms of price accuracy, here’s what’s stated in a Merchant Center help document:
“The price of your product should be consistent throughout the checkout process, not just between the product feed and your landing page. The price shouldn’t increase at checkout. It may, however, be lowered after the product is added to the cart if a promotion is added.
Any additional charges or fees, such as activation fees, must be included in the price.”
Retailers are being given plenty of time to prepare for this change. The time between now and April 6 can be used to audit price data and ensure what appears on landing pages is what’s shown at checkout.
Google will make another announcement when this enforcement change officially becomes active.
Source: Google Merchant Center Help