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Google Revamps Its Merchant Center Interface, Providing Some Improved Functionality

Google recently rolled out a new version of their Merchant Center, an interface that allows merchants to check on the overall health of their product feeds as well as diagnose issues with specific products. As our team recently discussed in The PLA Playbook, having strong data quality in product feeds is critical to running a successful PLA program.

Changes are Mostly Aesthetic and Structural

The appearance and organizational structure of the Merchant Center are the main aspects that Google upgraded. Aside from moving to a darker look, the biggest updates come on the left-hand rail. Previously, the Diagnostics tab (where you can see errors and warnings listed for individual SKUs) had its own place on the rail. You now have to go into the “Products” section in order to get to the Diagnostics tab.

The “Products” header also contains the Feeds and List sections (somewhat confusingly, the List tab was called “Products” in the old Merchant Center). The same logic applies to the “Promotions” header, which also houses “Feeds” and “List” pages. The way that items are grouped on the menu will take some getting used to for experienced users, but it ultimately makes more sense than the previous setup.

Some Diagnostic Functionality Improved

Despite the slight annoyance of having to make an extra click to navigate to the page, the functionality of the Diagnostics tab has been greatly improved. Prior to this update, the Diagnostics tab only updated twice per day, which was frustrating if you were pushing a new feed to fix errors or warnings. This is because, in most cases, you wouldn’t be able to see the impact of changes until the next day. The Diagnostics tab now updates in “near real-time,” which allows us to see the impact of changes in feeds promptly.  

Areas of Opportunity Still Exist

While the new setup is more intuitive for the most part, there are a few changes that would simplify the user experience. For example, API diagnostics cannot be accessed using the left-hand rail anymore. Instead, you now have to click on the three dots on the top right of the page to get to API diagnostics. We use this frequently and it would be nice to have this included within the “Products” menu. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t find something that used to exist in the Merchant Center, check the top right of the page.

Additionally, some of the section names can get confusing. For example, it would be easy to absentmindedly click the Feeds option within the Promotions tab and think that you are in the Product Feeds section. Adding a small clarification within the naming convention could alleviate this issue, something like “Promo Feeds” and “Promo List” would work well.

The biggest annoyance has been the fact that if you are checking Merchant Centers for multiple clients, it will not allow you to seamlessly log out and log back in for a different client. Google displays the following message when trying to log in:

To overcome this issue, all you have to do is go back to the Merchant Center login page after receiving this message and it will allow you to log in successfully. I would be surprised if this ended up being a longstanding problem. Rather, this seems like a bug in the code that I’m sure Google will fix in the coming weeks.

The biggest benefit by far is the fact that we are able to see the Diagnostics tab update in real time. Despite a few minor changes that we would like to see, the new Merchant Center is certainly a step up from the old.