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As of July 31st, 2019, retailers with country of sale set to Austria, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, or Poland will be required to submit accurate shipping rates for their product feeds in Google Merchant Center.
Rates can be applied using the general account-level Shipping settings in Merchant Center or sent directly in the feed using the shipping attribute.
In the announcement, Google emphasized the importance of following the new guidelines as products or accounts could potentially become disapproved or suspended:
"After July 31, 2019, accounts that include Austria, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, or Poland as a country of sale will be subject to reviews of individual items, as well as account-level reviews. Accounts that don’t include the required shipping information may be disapproved and products associated with those accounts will generate errors and won’t be eligible to appear in Shopping ads."
The official announcement by Google can be read here.
Why the change?
Google updates its Product Feed Specifications and policies at least once per year (often more than once) in an effort to better support both retailers and shoppers alike.
Improvements such as these are more consumer-facing, as Google wants to ensure the search experience is both accurate and consumer-friendly.
Accurate shipping costs allow shoppers to understand the full cost of purchasing products when using Shopping ads on Google.
So, this comes as no surprise at all, and it benefits both shoppers and merchants.
For merchants, providing accurate cost in ads that reflects exactly (or very close to exactly) what the shopper can experience when checking out creates a sense of trust between the two parties.