About orders

This guide conforms to v2.1 of the Google Content API for Shopping and doesn't provide information on deprecated calls from v2.

This guide covers the following Orders processes:

  • Lifecycle of an order
  • Order return process
  • Order refund-without-return process
  • Reserve workflow process
  • Not-delivered order process


An order contains line items that refer to one or more products and captures the following information available at the time of purchase:

  • Shipment method selected by the customer
  • Customer's shipping address
  • Customer's email preferences

Each order has an order status that indicates the progress towards completion of the order. The order status is usually derived from the line items. For example, if all the line items are shipped, the order status is shipped. If all the line items are returned and a refund is granted, the order status is returned. For the full description of an order, see the orders resource page.


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

Summary of order process

Here are the steps in the order process:

Customer places an order
A customer places a new order on Google Shopping.
Google checks the order and payment info
Google confirms the order and payment information. When the order is verified for payment, and after the customer has time to change their mind, the status of the order changes to pendingShipment. Note that you shouldn't start your order fulfillment process until the order is in pendingShipment status.
Merchant acknowledges the order
Set the order flag to acknowledged, which helps you filter new orders.
Merchant checks item availability and reserves the ordered products
Begin fulfillment and verify that the products are available for this order. If you are using the Reserve process, verify this as well. If a product is unavailable, notify Google and the entire order or a part of the order is set to canceled.
Merchant charges the customer (optional)
When you're ready to ship the first item in the order, call captureOrder to charge the customer. If the charge succeeds, proceed to ship the item. If the charge fails, cancel the order.
Merchant ships the order and process the payment
Ship the complete or partial order within three days of your handling time. Use the API call orders.shiplineitem to mark the order as shipped. Google then completes the payment steps.
Merchant tracks the shipment
Continue to track the shipment and update the order with tracking information. Google tracks this information for supported carriers.
Google provides a shipment update
Google sets the order status as delivered or partiallyDelivered when the complete order or partial order is delivered, or as undeliverable if the order can't be delivered. Google requires you to use supported carriers and add valid tracking numbers to do this.
Google completes the payment
Google completes the payment process and invoice for OrderInvoice enabled merchants. When all the items in the order are shipped, the order status is set to shipped.
Customer receives the order
The customer receives the order and has the option to return it.

Detailed order process

Here is a more detailed look at the order process:

Receive order
The order process begins when a customer places an order. After the customer places an order, Google sends an order confirmation email that contains the Google order number.
Check order and payment info
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.
Poll for new orders
You can also fetch actionable orders with a periodic poll using the orders.list method with pendingShipment as the filter for the status field. The polling interval (how often you poll for new orders) should be based on your anticipated order frequency or volume.
Reserved products and partial orders
If the order's products are reserved, 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 using orders.shiplineitem for the reserved products.
Set merchant order ID
Optionally, use orders.updatemerchantorderid to set your ID in the send merchant order ID to Google step. Google then sets the order status to acknowledge. Calling any method on a given order other than retrieving its details automatically acknowledges the order.
Delays and cancellations

If you decide not to fulfill the order, cancel it by calling the orders.cancel method and 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 resource.

If you expect that your order can't be shipped on time, you should inform Google of the 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 respects the new shipByDate and deliveryByDate in the order's auto-cancellation process, and informs the customer through email of the new delivery information for their order. Learn more about shipping policies for Buy on Google.

If none of the items in the order are available, cancel the order using the orders.cancel method. If one or more line items are not available, cancel those line items individually using the orders.cancellineitem method. The order status for those line items then changes to canceled.

Ship order

Next the merchant ships the order. Use orders.shiplineitem to ship the entire or partial order based on availability of the items in the order. The order status is updated to shipped or partiallyShipped. If the order is partially shipped, there may still be some items in a pendingShipment state. After all the line items in an order are either shipped or canceled, the order status is shipped.

Google sends an email to the customer confirming the order details, and completes payment processing 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.

Create invoice

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

Update shipment status

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

Order completion

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 discussed below.

Not-delivered process

If the customer did not receive an order, you have to follow a well thought out 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 process

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.


Customers can return an order in the following ways:

  • Through the Google Shopping portal
  • By contacting Google Customer Service
  • In store

Merchants can use the orderreturns service to process their returns and issue refunds.

An Order only assumes the returned or partiallyReturned status if the following criteria are met:

  • The merchant accepts the return
  • The merchant calls orderreturns.process or ordereturns.createorderreturn

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

Summary of process

The order return process:

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

  2. Google or the merchant reviews request:

    • Google reviews the return request: Google reviews the reason for the return request, and if approved, emails the customer a return shipping label as a PDF.

    • Merchant reviews the return request: If the merchant manages their own return policy, they upload the return shipping label for the customer. Once it's uploaded, the return is set to new return status.

  3. Customer sends package: The customer prints the shipping label and ships the package. The package is shipped to the return address configured in Merchant Center.

  4. Retrieve returns: The merchant continuously checks for new returns using the OrderReturns get or list methods.

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

  6. Process return: Merchant decides to accept or reject the return package with process.

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

  8. Customer receives refund: Customer receives a refund notification. The money is refunded to their account 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 through 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 as 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 processes returns

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.


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

  1. Customer requests 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 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 or partial refund.