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eCommerce

An overview of Google’s new ‘inaccurate availability’ policy

Gibson Toombs
June 22nd, 2021
3 MINUTE READ

On September 1st, 2021, Google’s new inaccurate availability policy will go into effect—with the goal of protecting online shoppers from inconvenient discrepancies between product landing pages and checkout.

Let’s say you’re browsing an online clothing store and you come across a pair of pants that you love, so you click “add to cart.” But then a message pops up notifying you that the product is currently unavailable or out of stock. This all-too-common scenario is the result of internal inefficiencies that can be avoided with stronger UX design, as well as smarter product and inventory management.

Now, the penalty for displaying out-of-stock items on landing pages will be greater than just a few unhappy customers. Violation of this new policy could lead to Google suspending your business’ website—which, of course, can result in a serious loss of revenue.

Read on to make sure your business is fully prepared to comply with Google’s new set of rules regarding product availability.

How to avoid a violation 

A simple audit of your eCommerce site and product data will uncover any potential violations. According to Google, these are the main issues you’ll want to look out for:

  • Buy button is nonfunctional: As described in the example above, a nonfunctional buy button shows the item is unavailable or out of stock once the user presses it, even though the product appears to be available on the landing page. 
  • Product isn’t available in the customer’s country or region: If you only sell items in specific countries or regions, make sure users outside of those locations aren’t presented with false product availability. You can manage this by using Google Merchant Center’s regional availability and pricing tool. 
  • Item cannot be shipped to the customer: Businesses often sell products that—for a variety of reasons—cannot be sent directly to the customer’s address, and must be picked up in store or at another pick-up location. If you sell items with particular shipping requirements, it’s imperative that your customers are aware of this process before entering their shipping information at checkout. 
  • Product price changes at checkout: If the price of a product increases after the customer adds it to their cart, your site will be at risk of getting suspended by Google. Make sure your product landing page prices match the actual prices of each item. 

Maintaining a quality customer experience 

By maintaining compliance with Google’s new inaccurate availability policy, eCommerce merchants will provide more transparent and reliable shopping experiences to their customers. But for growing companies that are constantly adding new products, changing prices, setting up new digital storefronts, and updating shipping processes, managing the front-end experience—along with back-end product and inventory management—can become increasingly complex. 

Does your online business need help optimizing its product landing pages, checkout process, and overall UX design? Codal can help. Our team will conduct an audit of your site to make sure it’s in full compliance with Google’s policies, as well as uncover opportunities to enrich the customer experience and drive internal efficiency.
To learn more about the many ways Codal can help elevate your eCommerce business, get in touch with us today!

Gibson Toombs
AUTHOR

Gibson Toombs

Gibson Toombs is a Technical Content Writer at Codal. His writing career began in 2015 after graduating from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Since then, he has worked on many projects, covering a wide range of technical topics, from solar energy to cybersecurity. When he’s not taking complex ideas and turning them into easily-digestible pieces of content, Gibson can be found playing guitar and writing songs at his apartment in Chicago.

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