Version v2 of the Content API is scheduled for sunset on September 30th, 2021. Onboarding to v2 ended on April 30, 2021. To avoid disruptions with your integration, please migrate to v2.1 as soon as possible.

For more information, see Migrating to v2.1 and this blog post.

About Orders

This document conforms to the Content API calls for Orders v2.1 and avoids the use of deprecated API calls from Orders v2.

This document covers the Content API Orders processes, which includes:

  • The lifecycle of an order.
  • The order return process.
  • The order refund-without-return process.
  • The reserve workflow process.
  • Not delivered order process.
  • Orders API. Their calls, status, summary, and detailed diagrams with accompanying descriptions.

An order contains line items which refer to one or more products and captures information available at the time of purchase, such as:

  • The shipment method selected by the customer.
  • The customer's shipping address.
  • The customer's preferences for receiving emails from the merchant.

Each order has an order status, which indicates the progress towards completion of the order. The order status is frequently derived from the actual line items. For example, if all line items are shipped, the order status is shipped or, if all line items are returned and a refund is granted, the order status is set to returned. For a full description of an order, refer to Orders Resource page.

The following diagrams illustrate the order, return, and refund-without-return processes:

Order process

Orders are created by customers and processed by merchants using the Google Shopping Content API. These orders are then acquired, acknowledged, processed, and shipped out.

The steps in the order process:

  1. New order placed: A customer places a new order on Google Shopping.

  2. Check order & payment info: Google confirms the order and payment information. When the order is verified for payment, and after the customer has had time to change their mind, the status of the order is changed to pendingShipment. Note that you should not start your order fulfillment process until the order is in pendingShipment status.

  3. Get orders & acknowledge: You receive the new order. At this stage, set the order flag to acknowledged which helps to filter new orders. This step is optional.

  4. Check availability, reserve: You begin fulfillment and verify that the products are available for this order. If you are using the Reserve process, you can verify this as well. Note that if a product is unavailable, notify Google and the entire order or a part of the order is set to canceled.

  5. Ship order and process payment: You ship the complete order, or partial order, within three days of your handling time. Use the API call orders.shiplineitem to mark as shipped. Google then completes the payment steps.

  6. Track shipment: You continue to track the shipment and update the order with tracking information (Google tracks this information for supported carriers).

  7. Shipment update: Google sets the order status as delivered or partiallyDelivered when the complete order or part of the order is delivered, or undeliverable if the order cannot be delivered. Note that this requires using supported carriers and adding valid tracking numbers.

  8. Complete payment: Google completes the payment process and invoice for OrderInvoice enabled merchants. When all items are shipped, the order status is set to shipped.

  9. Order received: The customer receives the order. At this point, the customer is permitted to return the delivered order. Refer to the Summary of the return process for more details.

Detailed order process

In the detailed order process, we explore the API calls required to process an order.

The order process begins when a customer places an order. After the customer places an order, Google sends an order confirmation email message that contains the Google order number.

Google continues to the fraud check stage. During the fraud check process, a short time is allowed for the customer to cancel the order. If the order is valid, the order status is set to pendingShipment and you can start order fulfillment by using orders.acknowledge, for example.

You can also fetch actionable orders with a periodic poll using the orders.list API call and using the status field as a filter to get a list of orders with a status of pendingShipment. The polling interval, how often you poll for new orders, should be set based on your anticipated order frequency or order volume.

If the order's products are reserved, then the order process skips the steps that check for availability and the possibility of creating partial orders. In this case, proceed to ship the order by using orders.shiplineitem for the reserved products.

Optionally, use your ID in the send merchant order ID to Google step, using the orders.updatemerchantorderid API call. Google then sets the order status to acknowledge. If you do not use your merchantOrderId, then the order status is set to acknowledge. Essentially, calling any method on a given order other than retrieving its details automatically acknowledges the order.

If you decide not to fulfill this order, cancel it by calling the orders.cancel API passing a reason code for the cancellation. The order status is set to cancel. Refer to the list of valid reason codes in the Orders API resource.

If you expect that your order cannot be shipped on time, you should inform Google of this delay using orders.updatelineitemshippingdetails. This API call lets you set a new shipByDate and deliveryByDate for a lineitemId in the order. If orders aren't shipped within three days of your handling time, they may be canceled automatically. Google will respect this new shipByDate and deliveryByDate in the order's auto-cancellation process, and will inform the customer via email of the new delivery information for their order. Learn more about shipping policies for Buy on Google.

If you continue to fulfill the order, and none of the items in an order are available, the entire order may be canceled using the orders.cancel API call. If one or more line items are not available, then those line items may be canceled using the orders.cancellineitem API call. The order status for those line items sets to canceled.

Merchant ships the order: The orders.shiplineitem API call is used to ship the entire order, or partial order, based on available line items in the order; and the order status is updated to shipped or partiallyShipped for a partial order. If the order is partially shipped, that implies that there may still be some items in a pendingShipment state. After all line items in an order are in either shipped_or_canceled state, the order status sets to shipped.

An email message is sent to the customer confirming the order details, and the payment processing is completed with the orders.shiplineitem API call. Items not marked as shipped within three days of your handling time are canceled automatically. Refer to our shipping policy for more details.

Optionally, merchants who have been enabled can use the orderinvoices.createchargeinvoice API at a line item level for greater flexibility and granularity in generating invoices and calculating taxes. The merchant order payment status is updated to paymentCaptured after using this API for all line items. The line item status is then updated to shipped, and a confirmation email is sent to the customer when fully shipped. If you would like to use this API, contact our US support team or France support team.

Merchants are expected to track each shipment as a best practice. When an order is delivered, use the API call orders.updateshipment, and this updates the shipment status to delivered in the API call (for supported carriers Google updates the status for you). If an order is not delivered, we continue with the Not Delivered process.

The order is complete when:

  • All items for that order are shipped.
  • All partial order shipments have a status of delivered.
  • A confirmation email has been sent to the customer.

Note that a customer can return an order that was delivered. The return process is summarized in the Summary of the return process section and shown in the Detailed return process section.

Not delivered workflow

If the customer does not receive an order, you have to follow a careful process to ensure that the customer is ultimately satisfied with the outcome. This diagram documents that process, as well as the steps Google takes in this case.

The Order Not Delivered sub-process flow continues from the Detailed order process:

If the carrier followed a process to deliver a shipment, but the shipment was still not delivered, then the shipment should be updated to undeliverable.

In addition, there are several different reasons that a customer may not receive an order. For the following cases, call orderreturns.createorderreturn to initiate the return and then orderreturns.process to process the return and issue a refund:

  • If the shipment was returned to you as a result of the customer rejecting the order, check to see if the shipment contained 100% of the order. If the shipment contained 100% of the order, use orderreturns.process, to have the order status changed by Google to returned and trigger a refund email confirmation to the customer by Google.

  • If the shipment did not contain 100% of the order, use orderreturns.process to have the order status changed by Google to partiallyReturned and have a partial refund confirmation is sent to the customer.

  • If the shipment was not returned, continue to track the shipment and make a decision to refund. If you decide to issue a refund, use orderreturns.process. If you decide not to refund the item, the customer is still charged for the order.

Reserve workflow

The reserve workflow sub-process is designed to allow merchants to reserve a subset of their product for sale on Google.

In order to use the reserve workflow, you need to know what the inventory is, track it on your system, and use the sell_on_google_quantity attribute to share your inventory information.

This section assumes that you are following the broader Detailed order process and this workflow replaces the first part of that workflow.

The reserve sub-process is followed after a customer orders a product that you have placed on reserve in your inventory. Once the order is placed, Google changes the order status to inProgress and the merchant can fetch new orders using the API call orders.list with a filter for the order status of inProgress.

After you find an order that contains products that you manage through your reserve process, update the order with your OrderId. If you decide to provide your ID by using the orders.updatemerchantorderid API call, Google updates this information and automatically marks the order as acknowledged. If you do not provide your merchant OrderId, you should use orders.acknowledge to mark the order as acknowledged.

Check for items available in your system to verify that all products are available. You should keep the sell_on_google_quantity attribute updated as a way to share your inventory information. If all products for the order are available, reserve the available inventory for this order. If some reserve products are not available, use the API call orders.cancellineitem to cancel the unavailable products while the order still has a status of inProgress with acknowledged.

If none of the products in the order are available in the reserve inventory, cancel the order by using the orders.cancel API call. After the order has been canceled, Google then cancels the order, informs the customer, and initiates the default invoice process to refund their money.

To complete the processing, return to the order workflow process. Remember that the order is now acknowledged.

Order return process

The following diagram is a summary of the order return process.

The order return process:

  1. Customer requests a return: The customer returns the order directly by using the order menu in the Google Shopping application or by contacting Google's help center. The customer specifies the reason for the return, such as ordering the wrong item or the wrong size.

  2. Google or the merchant reviews the request:

    • Google reviews the return request: Google reviews the reason for the return request, and if approved, sends the customer a return package shipping label in PDF format via email.

    • Merchant reviews the return request: If the merchant chooses to manage the return policy, they upload the return shipping label for the customer. Once it is uploaded the return is in a ‘New’ return status.

  3. Send package: The customer prints the shipping label and ships the package back to you. The return package comes back to you, at the return address configured in Merchant Center.

  4. Retrieve return: You continuously check for new returns via the OrderReturns service get or list method.

  5. Create return: If there are no returns found, use orderreturns.createorderreturn to initiate a return.

  6. Process return: You decide to accept or reject the return package via orderreturns.process.

  7. Issue payment for refund: Google processes the refund and updates the corresponding order data. The order status is updated to returned or partiallyReturned.

  8. Receive funds: Customer receives a refund notification. The money is refunded to the customer in a few days.

Detailed order return process

Use this flowchart in the case where the customer has returned the order. We've broken this up into three separate parts to aid in readability:

  1. The customer return process.
  2. Polling for returns via the API.
  3. Accepting or rejecting the package and Google processing the decision.

Customer returns the package

The order return process begins when a customer receives an order and makes a decision to send one or more items back to you. The customer can call Google's help center or use the Shopping application to initiate a request for returnable items. Note that there are several factors determining whether an item is returnable, such as whether item return date has passed and whether the item has already been returned.

If you choose to manage your own returns process in Merchant Center, the return status is set to “pending” when the return is created. After you upload the shipping label to the Merchant Center, the return status is updated to “new”. If you choose to use Google to manage the return process, Google creates the shipping labels and sends them to customers for your order returns. Order return statuses start from “new” for Google-managed returns.

Merchant polls for returns

Use the orderreturns.list method to find new returns in real time. If a return is identified, use the carrier and tracking number provided to anticipate the shipment and inform staff that a return package is being shipped back to your location. Note that returns will still be shipped to your location, even if you do not use this method to check for new returns.

Once you receive the package, use the orderreturns.get method to retrieve the return, review the packing slip and assess the package content to verify that the package was returned for a valid reason. You can then decide whether to accept the return.

If the return can be retrieved from Google, you can call orderreturns.process to either issue the refund or reject the return. For a refund, the retrieved return data provides refundable price information to help you decide the refund amount for each item.

If the return cannot be retrieved, the customer shipped the returned items directly, without initiating a return with Google (this is rare). In this case, you can call orders.returnrefundlineitem to issue the refund or call orders.rejectreturnlineitem to reject the return.

Google return processing

Once the return processing API call is received, Google starts the corresponding operations, such as issuing the refund, updating states and sending a notification to the customer.

Order refund-without-return process

The following diagram illustrates the process for issuing refunds that do not involve product returns.

  1. Customer requests a refund: The customer requests a refund by contacting Google or the merchant directly. The customer specifies the reason they want a refund, such as a damaged good or an incorrect pricing charge.

  2. Merchant Decides to Issue Refund

    1. Accept or reject refund request: The merchant decides to accept or reject the refund request, based on the reason given by the customer. Refunds can be given for specific items or for the entire order.

    2. Offer a Courtesy Refund: The merchant decides to offer a courtesy refund to the customer, without the customer requesting it. Refunds can be given for any reason, such as a price/tax adjustment.

  3. Process Refund: The merchant processes the order for a refund. If the merchant wants to refund specific items or shipping, use orders.refunditem, if the item level breakdown of the refund is not known use orders.refundorder. Both methods accept partial and full refunds.

  4. Issue Payment for Refund: Google processes the request and issues the refund or partial refund to the customer. Google then sets the refunds attribute on the orders resource.

  5. Receive Funds: The customer receives a full refund or partial refund.