About shipping settings

When submitting your products to Merchant Center, you’ll also provide information about how much you charge for shipping. Your shipping settings are used across Google programs, including Shopping ads and Shopping Actions. Shipping cost is the most common reason for users abandoning their shopping choices, so you’ll want to be sure your shipping settings are accurate and up-to-date.

This article explains how the various shipping settings work and when to use them. Learn more about setting up shipping settings

How it works

To show ads to a particular country or region, you must offer shipping and correctly set up shipping costs for that area. Because shipping costs vary by a variety of factors, the shipping settings in Merchant Center allow you to set up shipping tables based on factors like weight, price, destination, and more. Choose the shipping options that mirror how you charge for shipping on your site. If you charge your customers exactly what you pay for shipping with common carriers, you can also select carrier rates in some countries and Google will automatically calculate the shipping cost for you.

Shipping settings can also take into account product data that you submit using shipping attributes: shipping_label, shipping_weight, dimensions (shipping_length, shipping_width, shipping_height). To further specify delivery times for certain products, you can use the transit_time_label attribute.

The shipping costs that you submit to Merchant Center must match the costs that you charge on your website.

Note: If there is a discrepancy between the shipping cost on your website and the shipping cost you submit to Merchant Center, the cost submitted to Merchant Center needs to be the greater of the two.

When to provide shipping settings

You need to provide shipping settings in the following situations

  • If you want to advertise in any of the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States
  • If you want to advertise in an additional country that is not a product’s primary country of sale. Learn more about submitting feeds to multiple countries

What should be included in shipping

Shipping rate covers the shipping carrier cost as well as other costs directly related to shipping. Costs related to shipping might include handling, delivery, shipping, logistics, or carrier fees.

  • Submit the shipping cost for a user's location, not for a business or separate collection point.
    • For Canada only, submit shipping cost exclusive of taxes.
    • For Norway and Sweden, you may alternatively submit the shipping cost to a collection point for specific carriers based on country. 
      • For Norway and Sweden: PostNord, DHL, Bring, Schenke
      • For Finland: Posti.fi, DHL, Bring, Schenke
    • For Argentina and Chile, you may alternatively submit the shipping cost to a collection point or a store for pickup.

Shipping can include cross-border charges if the cost is included under a shipping term on your website. Shipping should also include insurance costs related to any of the terms above.

If you provide shipping settings for products you sell in Australia, France, Japan or the United States.

  • Match availability on your landing page with the shipping information that you submit to Merchant Center. If you don’t deliver your products across the entire target country, then use “No shipping” to exclude certain areas.

Ways to set up shipping

To get started with shipping, figure out what types of shipping cost models you need to add based on how you charge shipping. Keep in mind that the Shopping Ads shipping costs you submit to Merchant Center must match the costs you charge on your website or overestimate those costs.

How you charge Shipping option Benefit
Free shipping for certain ranges Fixed rate ($0) Simple to configure and maintain
A flat shipping rate for all orders Fixed rate Simple to configure and maintain
Your shipping is based on rates from supported carriers Carrier rate along with the shipping_weight and dimension attributes (available for AU, DE, and US) Rates are automatically calculated based on common carrier rates for all users, and the rates update if the carrier rates change
Based on a percentage of the order cost Percentage of order total Simple to configure and maintain and allows for varied shipping rates based on price
Based on more than 2 dimensions Subtable Add additional dimensions to your shipping service
Exclude a group of products from delivery in a shipping service No shipping Easily define products that you want to exclude from the shipping service
Unique shipping costs for one particular product

The shipping attribute

Only available for Shopping Ads

Allows you to manually override account settings for a product with unique shipping rates

Shipping-related product data

Shipping cost is often dependent on product details such as price, weight, or size. If you charge shipping based on these attributes or if you want to use carrier rates (which are calculated based on weight and size) you should add the relevant information to your product data.

Product details Attribute What to add
Product weight The shipping_weight attribute Include a shipping weight for each product so you can vary the shipping cost based on the weight
Product dimensions The shipping_length, shipping_width, and shipping_height attributes Include dimensions of a product to use for carrier rates
Different shipping costs for a group of products The shipping_label attribute Define groups of products (e.g., perishable or oversized) and then apply special shipping rates to those groups
Different transit times for a group of products The transit_time_label attribute Specify transit times for product groups to provide greater accuracy in estimated delivery dates

How more advanced shipping settings work

Depending on your shipping model, you might want to learn more about one or more of the more advanced settings described here.

Carrier rates (AU, DE, UK, and US only)

Use this setting if you charge shipping based on a carrier-calculated rate. You can choose from supported carriers (e.g., UPS, TNT, Hermes) and services (e.g., Ground, Next Day Air, 3 Day Select) available.
Region Supported shipping carrier
Australia AusPost, TNT, TOLL
France Geodis
Germany DHL, DPD, Hermes, UPS
United Kingdom DHL, DPD, Royal Mail, TNT, UPS, Yodel
United States FedEx, UPS, USPS

To use carrier rates, you’ll also need to submit shipping-related attributes (see table above):

  • shipping_weight
  • shipping_length
  • shipping_width
  • shipping_height

Learn more about setting up carrier rates.

Rate modifications

Carrier rates use the standard commercial rates for each carrier, but you can adjust the rates (up or down) by a percentage or flat amount.

Some carriers have multiple rates for commercial and personal purposes. Google uses commercial rates (e.g., “Standard” for FedEx and “Daily” for UPS). If you use non-commercial shipping rates (often called retail), you’ll likely need to adjust the rates up by 50 – 60%.

If you have a contract with the carrier, then you might need to adjust your rates up or down (using a negative number like -10) by a percentage or flat amount.

Subtables and complex shipping models

Use a subtable if your shipping is based on 3 or more dimensions. For example, use a subtable if your shipping is based on price, weight, and destination. Learn more about setting up subtables

Shipping from outside the country of sale

  • If you ship across borders, you normally incur additional costs such as customs, duties or import tax. Do not include such costs in the shipping attribute unless the shipping provider is fully responsible for the handling of goods through customs and the cost is included under a shipping term on your website. Learn more about export requirements

Note: Shipping to South Korea from outside South Korea is not permitted.

No shipping

Use the "No shipping" option to indicate that you don’t offer shipping for particular products through a shipping service. For example, if you don’t ship products over 50 lbs using your express service, use "No shipping" to indicate that.
For products that target Australia, Japan, or the United States, you can use "No shipping" to exclude shipping to certain states (AU and US), postal codes (AU and US), or prefectures (JP). For example, you can specify that you don’t ship outside of Tokyo prefecture or to a range of postal codes that represent the East Coast of the United States.
For those countries, still set up shipping for the areas that you do ship to, and make sure to specify "No shipping" for any areas that you do not ship to. Learn more about setting up shipping settings

Delivery zones (AU, FR, and US only)

Delivery zones are used to create custom regions so accurate shipping costs and transit times can be set for shipments to customers in Australia, France, or the United States. For example, if you’re located on the east coast of the United States, you may see higher costs and extended transit times when shipping orders to the west coast. Learn more about setting up delivery zones

Transit time labels

If you ship differently grouped products, you can create a transit time label for each group of products and apply the transit_time_label attribute to the corresponding products in your feed. Transit time labels help give your customers a more accurate estimated delivery date, which can help influence their purchase decision. For example, you add transit time label heavy to items with higher shipping costs due to their weight. Learn more about transit time labels

Oversize and freight shipping (LTL)

Carriers have limits on how large or how heavy a package can be. Larger products are normally shipped using freight shipping. Freight carriers are not supported by the carrier rate feature, so if your product is too big to ship through common shipping carriers, you’ll need to manually set up a rate table.
Note: This only applies to the Shopping Ads product. LTL and freight shipping are not currently allowed on the Shopping Actions program.
Here are some tips for setting up freight shipping:
  • Tag oversized or heavy products with the shipping_label attribute. With the shipping_label attribute, you can give oversized products a label (e.g., oversized) and then specify special shipping for those products. For example, you could add a shipping label for common freight classes.
  • Add rates based on weight and destination using tables and shipping groups. It’s easiest to split up complicated shipping settings, either by using subtables or shipping groups.
    • Base rates on shipping labels. Using shipping labels, you can create different rate tables for different product groups by creating shipping groups. For example, you could use the shipping_label attribute to indicate a freight class for each product. Then create a group for each label such as one group for Class 70 and one for Class 100.
    • Base rates on weight and location. If you don’t want to use shipping labels, you can link subtables for different weight classes with different rates for each state or group of postal codes.
  • Overestimate the cost. If you can’t provide an accurate cost, then overestimate. Your products won’t be disapproved for providing a higher shipping cost than what your website states. If you provide a lower cost than the one listed on your website, your products will be disapproved.

Learn more about setting up shipping settings

Estimated delivery time

Estimated delivery time is an important piece of information for people evaluating a possible purchase. If you want to show this information in your Shopping ads, you can specify a time in transit for each of your shipping services and a handling time for each product.
Transit time refers to the number of business days it takes for a carrier to deliver a package once it is picked up from your facility. You can configure transit time options within each shipping service in your Merchant Center account.
Handling time refers to the number of business days needed to process an order before it ships. Handling time normally starts when an order is placed by a customer and ends when a carrier picks up the package for shipment.You submit this either in Merchant Center within the shipping service or with your product data (use the max_handling_time and min_handling_time attributes). Learn more about setting up estimated delivery time
Holiday shipping cut-off
The holiday shipping cut-off setting allows you to submit temporary deadlines if you have special delivery settings for a particular holiday, like Christmas or Mother’s Day. Your items will clearly state if a purchase will be delivered in time for a holiday, based on a date and time you enter into the “Show from” field.
Example: You have a requirement that your customers place their orders by December 15th at 2:00pm PST to guarantee arrival by Christmas Eve (December 24th). When you set this deadline in Merchant Center text will be displayed in your ads and in Shopping Actions that tells customers their order will arrive by December 24. That text will stop showing shortly after your cut-off (in this example, the text would stop displaying on December 15th after 2:00 PST).
Holiday shipping cutoff will override all other estimated delivery date logic so it is important to select a deadline that provides you enough time to guarantee delivery on all orders placed before the cutoff. If, for example, the Christmas order deadline is set for December 24th, items ordered up to that day will be guaranteed to arrive by Christmas. This may require you to ship orders on weekends or upgrade the shipping speed to meet the delivery promise. If you participate in Shopping Actions, and fail to meet the “ship by” or “delivery by” dates in these circumstances, your Retailer Standards score may be negatively impacted.

Merchant Center is programmed to offer holiday shipping cut-offs for the following US holidays:
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Easter
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Independence Day
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
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