The ideal Google Shopping feed (product catalog) containing your products has to follow Google’s standard formatting when it comes to the product attributes. The feed needs to be in either .XML or .CSV format.

What is mandatory?

Firstly, every product in the feed needs to be opened with <item> and closed with </item>. 

Here is an example for how a feed should begin and its first product,

<xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"> 
<rss xmlns:g="http://base.google.com/ns/1.0" version="2.0 ">
<channel>
<title>Your Shop</title>
<link>Link to your website</link>
<description>Product feed for Flowbox</description>
 <item>
  <g:id>12345-01</g:id>
  <title>Lovely cup in blue</title>
  <description>A lovely coffee cup in the color blue</description>
  <link>Link to the product on your website</link>
  <g:image_link>Link to the product image</g:image_link>
  <g:price>29.00 EUR</g:price>
  <g:google_product_category>Coffee cups > Lovely coffee cups</g:google_product_category>
  <g:brand>Lovely</g:brand>
 </item>

Secondly, there are a few mandatory attributes that has to exist in the feed in order for Flowbox to accept it. They are,

  1. ID-attribute (<id>, <gtin>, <mpn> or <item_group_id>)
  2. Product title (<title>)
  3. Link to product (<link>)
  4. Product image link (<image_link>)

Price (<price>) is not mandatory - but it is something we recommend for obvious reasons 😉

Different markets - countries and/or languages 🇸🇪🇩🇪🇬🇧🇳🇱

If you plan on going live with Flowbox in other markets, we will need to create a copy of the original feed where a few attributes might differ,

  1. Product link
  2. Your site most likely has country and/or language parameters in its URL to indicate what language/country the site is for. Example - webshop.com/en, webshop.com/se and webshop.com/de. Each different language/country catalog needs to have the language/country parameter in every product URL. 
  3. Currency
  4. If you have markets with other currency than your own, it needs to be specified in its corresponding product catalog. 
  5. Price
  6. Price might differ depending on market and currency.
  7. Product title
  8. Different language, different title.

The rest of the attribute should contain the same data in despite of what market its used for. 

Product identifier 

When importing the Google Shopping feed to Flowbox, we need to specify which identifier attribute to use when identifying the different products. There are four ID-attributes in a Google Shopping feed, 

  1. <id>
  2. <gtin>
  3. <mpn>
  4. <item_group_id>

Do you have products in different sizes? Pay extra attention here 👇

Alright, this part may need an extra read - but it is worth it!
Most often ID, GTIN and MPN are used to identify products down to size level. Let's take <id> as an example. The product “Cool T-Shirt Blue XL” has the following <id>, 

12345 

Here the 123 indicates the 'Cool T-Shirt', 4 indicates ‘blue’ and the 5 indicates the size ‘XL’. 

If your feed contains all of your products identified down to size-level, we highly recommend using the attribute <item_group_id> when identifying products as that attribute should contain a variant ID. For example the T-shirt we used above should look something like this when using the <id> format broken down to size-level, 

“Cool T-Shirt Blue S”
12342 

“Cool T-Shirt Blue M”
12343 

“Cool T-Shirt Blue L”
12344 

“Cool T-Shirt Blue XL”
12345 

All of the products above should have the same <item_group_id>,

1234 

Where the size number has been removed and the ID now only contains the product and color. When now importing the feed to Flowbox, all of your products will automatically be imported on a variant-level and you wont need to tag every single size of a product in Flowbox. If you also include the attribute <size> in your product feed, Flowbox can automatically remove all potential sizes from the product title, thus making it look much nicer. Taking the T-Shirt above as an example again,

“Cool T-Shirt Blue XL”
1234
XL 

Its title would look like this: “Cool T-Shirt Blue”.

Product categories

If you will use Flowbox’s Dynamic Product Script on your product pages - the product category attributes has a big impact on the behaviour of the Flow. The script will show posts depending on what product page you are visiting. The Flow will first show posts tagged with that exact product, then fill in with products from the same product category, and lastly posts from a specific ‘Fallback Flow’ (eg. your Instashop flow). 

There are two different product category attributes, 

  1. <google_product_category> 
  2. <product_type>

Flowbox will always default to <google_product_category>,  but you can choose between either attributes when importing a product catalog to Flowbox.

Further reading

Here are a few helpful links regarding Google Shopping feeds.
Product attributes explainer
Google’s Beginners Guide to feed specification
5 most common Google Shopping errors & how to fix them

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