What is Google Shopping API & How to Use Them?

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Google Shopping API

“The sooner we drop the ‘e’ out of ‘e-commerce’ and call it commerce, the better,” a quote by Mr. Bob Willett (Former President of Best Buy International), is taking its shape to reality.  

We live in a world that cannot be imagined without eCommerce. Today, online shopping has made its rightful place as an everyday part of our lives. It won’t be wrong to say that you can buy anything from any site and at any time. The presence of eCommerce has made it possible!

With an expected market size of $4.9 trillion by 2021, eCommerce is the place to be for the industry of every type, shape, and size. It has become a familiar scene to have dual stores (an eCommerce store and a brick and mortar store). This way, businesses tap into new and better resources for increased sales and moving with the trends.

However, have you ever been in a situation where you compare the products of two different prices over Google?

If yes, then, have you ever wondered what makes it possible for you to strike the best bargain amongst thousands of service providers listed on Google?

No, it’s not any unique technique…. Keep thinking. 

Relax, you don’t need to stress about it anymore. The comparison is made possible by the API present over Google Shopping.

Something new, right? Let’s dive deeper and understand what API is and how its implications over Google Shopping. 

What is Google Shopping API? 

Google shopping API (Application Programming Interface) is a link that connects two applications, allowing the suggested applications or tools to exchange relevant pieces of information to communicate amongst themselves directly.  

Sounds a bit confusing, right?

Let’s try again and with an example.

Google Shopping API is a simple interface that pairs two applications/ tools successfully, allowing them to exchange information among themselves. In a way, Google API is the link that will enable applications to talk amongst themselves. However, this information is not the regular chit-chat that we have, but two applications exchange relevant information.

Example: We all are very used to one of the leading food delivery apps, Zomato. Now, whenever you visit the application and search for say ‘Noodles’ (for example). The first thing right after the search input is a list of many restaurants that offer you noodles.

It is totally upon the user’s discretion to easily hover to and forth the result that displays a catalog of various search results with individual prices written on them, making it easy for the user to compare.

This is precisely where API comes to place, i.e., the entire function where Zomato makes it easy for its users to compare and review different food items at a glance. 

However, API is nothing new; application developers often create them. These APIs are designed to improve the UI (User Experience) for developers and other users. The functionality of API is to record and analyze the users’ search criteria and compare them with other businesses over different criteria (generally prices, availability, reviews, & location, among others) to present the desired search results to users.

While this is the entire concept around API, you must be wondering how the topic suddenly came around Zomato. 

Relax, it was just an example to help you understand better and now that you have, let’s take a step further and understand for whom exactly API is for or what its aim is in Google Shopping campaigns. 

Aim of API in Google Shopping Campaigns

Post the creation of a Google Merchant Center account, the next step towards making your eCommerce store live is uploading the product data to the data feed. Users can quickly launch their Shopping Ads campaign. 

This is where API in Google Shopping campaigns comes into action. 

The aim of API in Google Shopping campaigns is to manage their uploads over data feeds easily. 

However, selecting the API is not the only option that you can go with. There are many different ways to do it, some of which are:

  • Uploading your product feeds manually over a local file
  • Uploading via Google Sheet 
  • Submitting your feeds via scheduled fetches
  • Getting your feed live through any supported eCommerce platform

While the suggested options can help you upload your data feed over the Google Merchant account, none of the methods listed above to provide you with the same level of flexibility and automation as the API method. 

API Content present in Google Shopping provides your eCommerce store with the flexibility to directly integrate with your Google Merchant Center account. This way, both the platforms navigate each other’s database to get the desired information around the product from the website and update the real-time data (price, availability, .etc.) over the campaign.

Considering the automation that API in Google Shopping brings around for your campaigns, we know what’s running on your mind. 

Let’s have a look at the same.

Things to Consider Before Using API from Google Shopping

To help you understand better, we have divided the section into two, one that talks about the situation when you should consider using API and the other that explains things to consider before you use the API. (In reference to Content API)

When to Use the Content API from Google Shopping campaigns:

  • To send requests programmatically: You can prefer working with Content API if you consider automating every part of your workflow or want to link your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. Content API makes real-time updates over inventory changes possible.
  • To receive immediate feedback: When you integrate your Google Shopping with the Content API, instant feedback is the new normal. This API allows you to respond to real-time requests, rather than working the same over email summary.
  • To frequently change your product data: It would help if you considered switching to Content API when you make frequent changes to your product inventory. Content API makes individual and batch uploading possible.

Things to consider before you use the API from Google Shopping

1. Do not use the API that you would like to use over data feeds

It is always advisable to avoid updating your product feeds daily, especially when using the Product service. Instead, you should be updating the products whose data has changed. When you send your entire data feed via the Products service platform, it becomes a time-consuming process.

2. Do not use the API to retrieve product information you have uploaded regularly

When you have the responsibility of maintaining specific product information over a given Merchant Center account, it is suggested that you avoid requesting product information from Content API through the use of Products.get or Products.list method. 

These APIs are not meant to be used for regular retrieval of product information. Instead, it would help if you considered using other sources to secure product information to reflect that source’s contents.

3. Do not use both data feeds and Content API to submit product items

If you think of making a switch to API for using the item submission, ensure that you aren’t making the use of data feeds to submit your products anymore. Eros might occur when you try to offer items using both mediums.

Google Shopping API Pricing

While Google offers a vast number of Shopping API for free access to the users, several others are billed. Further, to be able to use the APIs that are charged, users need to enable billing for the same. 

Interestingly, these Google APIs also have certain advantages, as listed below:

  • Certain APIs allow businesses to up their services to a specific courtesy limit, and in other cases, Google increases the free overall limit when the users enable billing.
  • Similarly, some APIs unlock more services once you unlock billing. 

It is essential to understand that billing of APIs is only enabled at the project level and not the API level. When you turn on your billing, Google charges you for all the paid APIs that you use over a specific campaign, based on the usage. 

Further, Google doesn’t allow selective billing over APIs; when you enable billing, Google charges you for every API that was used by the users in a given project, even when the billed API is currently disabled.

Wondering how to enable billing for your project?

Have a look for yourself!

  1. Reach for the API Console.
  2. Navigate around the projects list → , either select an existing project or proceed with a new one.
  3. Once done, navigate through the console menu and click ‘Billing’ (Note: If billing for your project is already enabled, the option won’t be available).
  4. Once you click on the billing option, fill out the form to enable the service (Consider creating a billing account if you don’t have one).

Once you have enabled billing for your project, any API that crosses its usage limits will be charged.

Getting to use APIs free for a specific limit sounds like a profitable deal, right? 

Let’s add something more to our API knowledge in Google Shopping and explore the advantages around the same. 

Advantages of API in Google Shopping

Marking its presence in over 94 countries, Google Shopping is quite the phenomenon that has helped businesses of every shape and size make a mark in the eCommerce sector. Further, with the introduction of API, things just got better for the business owners.

While API in Google Shopping helps with improved customer services, that’s not it. API in Google Shopping serves businesses with benefits like:

1. Automated management of the account

API links your Google Merchant Centre with the Google Shopping platform. This way, you are relieved from the troubles of manually uploading the updates around your product feed and enjoy automation over the mundane process of uploading the product feed.

Moreover, with feed upload of products managed automatically, you can focus more on the business’s core functioning. 

2. Ads management on a per-product basis

When you run a successful eCommerce store, it is only familiar to market a wide variety of products over your store. Further, when you manage several products, you need to manage several ad management tasks to align your campaign’s advertising strategy.

However, this is not the situation with APIs in Google Shopping. It allows you to manage ads based on individual products. 

3. Scheduling of data feed

APIs in Google Shopping makes it possible for you to schedule your data feed over a few clicks. This way, you can easily prepare a data feed of a wide variety of products and segregate different categories of products, to be uploaded shortly. 

4. Managing complex tax and shipping settings

APIs make it possible for your eCommerce business to manage complex tax and shipping settings over. Users can easily specify the tax and shipping that will be applicable over all the given products in an account.

Example Google Shopping API Usages

For the examples of both situations, let’s make use of a product. Say Lakme beauty cream, for example.

Example: Showing the search engine results page for the “Lakme beauty cream” query 

Solution


[
     {		
    	"priority":1,
		"language_code": "es", / spanish
		"location": "Argentina,Spain",
		"keyword": "Lakme beauty cream set." 
    }
]

Response Sample


{
    "version": "1.1.45125422",
    "status_code": 25658,
    "status_message": "Ok.",
    "time": "0.1021 sec.",
    "cost": 0.001,
    "tasks_count": 1,
    "tasks_error": 0,
    "tasks": [
        {
            "id": "05681234-8520-7652-0000-02e8fcfd5689",
            "status_code": 308550,
            "status_message": "Task Created.",
            "time": "0.0011 sec.",
            "cost": 0.001,
            "result_count": 0,
            "path": [
                "v2",
                "merchant",
                "google",
                "products,"
                "task_post"
            ],
            "data": {
                "api": "merchant",
                "function": "products",
                "priority": 1,
                "language_code": "es",
                "location_name": "Argentina,Spain",
                "keyword": "lakme beauty cream set",
                "se_type": "shopping",
                "se": "google",
                "device": "desktop",
                "os": "windows"
            },
            "result": null
        }
    ]
}

Conclusion 

API in Google Shopping is one of the safest bets that you can make to automate your eCommerce store over Google. Highlighted below are some of the key takeaways from this topic:

  • Google Shopping API is a simple interface that pairs two applications/ tools successfully, allowing them to exchange information among themselves. 
  •  Google Shopping is quite the phenomenon that has helped businesses of every shape and size make a mark in the eCommerce sector. 
  • API Content for Google Shopping provides your eCommerce store with the flexibility to directly integrate with your Google Merchant Center account.
  • API in Google Shopping serves businesses with benefits like Automated management of the account, Ads management on a per-product basis, Scheduling of data feed, and Managing complex tax and shipping settings

About the author

Karthik Ramachandiran

Google Ads Expert From Bengaluru. Share his Expertise Here