Google Base is a searchable online marketplace that consumers use to find and compare specific products. While this powerful tool is free and should be used by all who sell online, merchants need to be aware of changes that Google is instituting so that buyers are presented with a more complete picture of the true purchase cost. Although Google doesn’t yet include sales tax and shipping costs in its results pages, it certainly looks as if they are going to include this information soon. Merchants need to modify their Google Base settings to prepare for this change.
Within the Google Base control panel, merchants can now click on “Settings” and select the new “Tax & Shipping” tab to specify the appropriate value calculations. Shipping and tax calculations can take on complex forms and while Google’s settings aren’t going to accommodate every merchant, they should accommodate most.
Sales tax estimates can be set at the zip code level, state level or set to none. When set at the zip code level, Google uses the same sales tax database that Nexternal subscribes to which is owned by Tax Data Systems.
Shipping costs calculations are a bit more complicated. One option is to quote real-time shipping rates. This is the actual shipping rate that the carrier charges the merchant to deliver the package to the recipient. However, in order for Google to calculate the rate, it must first know the weights of the individual products. The merchant’s data feed should be updated accordingly to include weight if a merchant is to use that option. Shipping costs can also be set to a flat rate or set to vary based on price, weight, or number of items ordered.
While it’s impossible to predict exactly when Google will display the information and make it useful, the fact that they updated the merchant interface to include these settings leads one to believe it will happen soon. Taking 5 minutes to configure these settings will not only provide shoppers with the most complete information, it can also keep merchants one step ahead of the competition.