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Google Shopping for Zen Cart

Zen Cart Google Shopping Module

Google Shopping Module for Zen Cart builds a feed file of your products. This feed file allows you to use Google Merchant Center to create a Shopping Campaign. Shopping campaigns help you promote your products by giving users detailed information about what you're selling before they even click your ad.

Relevance: Zen Cart™ 1.5.5+

Support Thread: My commercial software is not supported on the Zen Cart forum. Please email me questions instead.

Cost: This software is offered to my support clients only. Pricing details here.

Come work with me and I'll help you!    Let's get started!

FAQ: click here

Incompatibilities: Google Shopping does NOT permit certain types of businesses to advertise on their network. Please check their policies for details on prohibited items. If you only have a few of these items, I can exclude them from your feed for an additional fee.

Scope of Work: This package includes
  • Installation of the feed file creation on your store
  • Adding structured data to your products in json-ld format, as recommended by Google
  • Automating the nightly creation and and upload of the file to Google Merchant Center.

It does not include
  • Setup and configuration of Google Merchant Center (including shipping rates)
  • Dealing with Google policy violation notices on your store - expect this to consume a significant amount of time.
  • Additional feed file settings required by your products, such as dimensions for carrier-calculated shipping
  • Setting of per-product google_product_category values; I use a single value from the Google product taxonomy list
  • Creation of custom product descriptions for use in your feed
  • Setting up your Google Shopping campaign
  • Handling product variants. One entry will be submitted per product id.
  • Handling multiple languages or currencies

These work items are billed at my normal hourly rate for support clients.

Requirements: In order to purchase this mod, you must have the following:
  • A Google AdWords account.
  • A budget for a Google Shopping campaign. If you are unwilling to spend money on advertising, this mod will not help you.
  • Your store must not sell prohibited products as defined by Google. There are many completely legal products which Google will not permit you to list on Shopping. You may still be able to buy AdWords for these products, but you may not list them on Google Shopping.
  • Your hosting service must support the creation of cron jobs
  • Your shipping options must be compliant with Google's Shipping requirements for Google Merchant. If you don't offer flat rate or free shipping, please read my shipping compliance recommendations carefully.

Individual products also have requirements to be listed. Each product added to your shopping feed must conform to the following requirements:
  • The product must have an image. Google will not take products which do not have images. (Note that I can skip products with no images, if requested.)
  • The product must have a description. Google will not take products which do not have descriptions. (Note that I can skip products with no descriptions, if requested.)
  • The product must have a price. (This means call-for-price products will not be taken by Google.)


If you do a Google search for a product, and then click the "Shopping" link at the top of the page, you'll see something different than Google's normal text summaries. You'll see a list of products that match your search. Here's an example from one of my clients (a fantastic source of keypad pushbutton combination locks for buildings and vehicles, by the way): Google Shopping result for Zen Cart product

This result is created using these steps:
  • Adding structured data to the product info page for the product. Here's what it looks like:
    <script type="application/ld+json">
      "@context": "http://schema.org/",
      "@type": "Product",
      "name": "Lockey 1150DC Double-Sided Latchbolt Lock",
      "image": "http://keylessentrylocks.com/images/KeylessEntryLocks-product-1500/1150DC.jpg",
      "description": "Lockey 1150DC Double-Sided Latchbolt Lock",
      "mpn": "Lockey-1150-DC",
      "brand": {
        "@type": "Brand",
        "name": "Lockey Digital Systems, Inc."
      "offers": {
        "@type": "Offer",
        "priceCurrency": "USD",
        "price": "449.93",
        "itemCondition": "new", 
        "availability": "in stock" 
  • Creating an entry in a feed file for Google Merchant Center for this product:
        <title>Lockey 1150DC Double-Sided Latchbolt Lock</title>
        <description>Lockey 1150DC Double-Sided Latchbolt Lock</description>
        <g:product_type>Locks with Keypad Inside &amp;amp; Out</g:product_type>
        <g:brand>Lockey Digital Systems, Inc.</g:brand>
        <g:google_product_category>Hardware > Locks & Locksmithing</g:google_product_category>
        <g:availability>in stock</g:availability>
  • Automating the upload of this file to Google.
  • Creating a Google Shopping Campaign with Google. Like AdWords, you will need to pay for this.

Here's another set of products in Google Shopping from a Zen Cart software developer in West Central Florida. That's right - I'm not just the author of Google Shopping for Zen Cart … I'm also a client. 🙂
Google Shopping result for Zen Cart product

The display on the regular "All" results tab is a bit different; it's smaller and off to the right.
Google Shopping result for Zen Cart product Google Shopping result for Zen Cart product

Google Merchant Shipping Policies

Your shipping options must be compliant with Google's Shipping requirements for Google Merchant. This is not a trivial requirement.

Google requires you to quote per product shipping for each of the regions you want to advertise in. Here are the most common ways to do this:

Shipping option Description
Free Simple to configure and maintain
Flat rate Simple to configure and maintain
Carrier rate (UPS, USPS, FedEx) Rates are automatically calculated based on carrier rates for all users (not negotiated rates). Only available in some countries (USA, AUS). You may add a surcharge (% or fixed amount).
Percentage of order total Simple to configure and maintain and allows for varied shipping rates based on price
Unique shipping costs for one particular product Specify the shipping price within the feed using the shipping attribute. Allows you to manually override account settings for a product with unique shipping rates

Google maintains a team of auditors who will compare what's in the feed to what is shown on your website in the Shipping Estimator, and complain about any variance between the two. Being out of compliance in this manner can lead to your Google Shopping account being suspended, so it's not a matter to take lightly.

Now according to their own rules, you are allowed to "overestimate" the shipping cost in the feed (see rule below), but even then, I have received complaints from them. Per Google,
"To show ads to a particular country or region, you must offer shipping and correctly set up shipping costs for that area. The shipping costs that you submit to Merchant Center must match the costs you charge on your website or at least overestimate those costs."

In other words, it's ok for the feed to show a higher shipping cost than your website. It's not ok for your website to show a higher shipping cost than the feed.

Situations to Watch For

  • If you determine shipping costs algorithmically according to your own logic, you're going to have to figure out some way of mapping this to one of the techniques in the table above for the purposes of the Google feed. Per Google,
    "Keep in mind that if you dynamically choose where to ship from at the time the user checks out, there is currently no way that this can be configured in Google Shopping."
  • You quote negotiated rates (for example, using the upsxml shipping module). If you use Carrier Rates in Google Shopping, they will retrieve non-negotiated rates; this will cause the rate shown in Google Shopping to be higher than what is on your website. Although this is permitted according to their rules, you may have to argue with them about this.
  • You have enabled multiple shipping modules, or multiple services within a carrier. In this case, you may be forced to show all relevant rates, not just the lowest or most common one. See the example below.
    Google Merchant Shipping Rates Example for Zen Cart product

    (You can view the shipping costs on your products in Google Merchant by going to Products > List, selecting a product, and scrolling down to Shipping and tax rate calculator.)
  • If you have a free shipping threshold, you may be asked to create multiple shipping rates in Google Shopping.
  • You have enabled multiple shipping modules, or multiple services within a carrier. In this case, you may be forced to show all relevant rates, not just the lowest or most common one. See the example below.

Google Merchant Image Policies

The image requirements for Google Merchant are also surprisingly stringent. Be sure to familiarize yourself with them so you can be sure your images are compliant. Things I have seen merchants get warnings about include:
  • Descriptive text overlays, even non-promotional ones
  • Watermarked images
  • Images branded with Store logos


Google Shopping is offered to my support clients only. (Why?)

Would you like to feature your products on Google Shopping? Come work with me and I'll help you!    Let's get started!

The price for this module is $350 plus installation and customization costs at my normal hourly rate for support clients.


Q:If I buy this module, do you promise my products will be in Google Shopping?
A: This product generates a well-formed XML feed file for use with Google Shopping. Google may - at least initially - reject some or all of your products for reasons that have nothing to do with your feed file. You may have additional, follow on work to do after the feed file is created and submitted. I can help you with this for additional fees if you wish, but it is outside of the scope of what is provided by this module. If you want someone to take care of your site, including getting your products into Google Shopping, you can go on support, and I will take care of everything. (Please note that Google's own restrictions on products in Shopping will still apply.)

Q:How long will it be until my products are visible in Google Shopping?
A:I will do the work within a few days, but I can't give you a time estimate on the end result, because it depends on the number of things Google flags and how long it takes to fix them. I have seen it take as little as 3 days to get a large percentage of products online, and I have seen it take over a month.
In addition, note that errors can take up to 30 days to disappear from your diagnostics tab even after resolution. (If you think this is confusing, you are correct!)

Q:What's the difference between Google Shopping and Google Froogle?
A:Google Froogle no longer exists; it has been superseded by Google Shopping and Google Merchant Center. Other prior names for this service include Google Product Search and Google Products.

Q:How much maintenance do I have to do on my Google Shopping Feed?
A:It's hard to quantify but you must stay on top of it - Google makes the rules and we all just have to live by them. One client was successfully listing over 300 products for months, and then one day, Google decided that their images, which had watermarks and text overlays, were non-compliant. Here's what happened:
Google Merchant showing initial errors for Zen Cart product

The trouble is though, as soon as you go into the red, it can be terribly difficult to get out. Google caches your images, and if your images are the source of the problem, the cache means this problem takes a long time to show up as fixed. Google Merchant showing errors for Zen Cart products

And when I say "a long time," I'm talking weeks, even though the fixes were done quickly to the website. Google Merchant showing resolved errors for Zen Cart products

I charge a fee of $350 for the Google Shopping Module. Buy Google Shopping.