AI is Changing How We Search for Products

If there's one thing we've learned over the years, it's that even the slightest friction can negatively impact conversion.

And while PDPs and checkout carts have been endlessly optimized, the search and discovery process is still a bit of a PITA (or pain in the… well, you know what we mean). 

But thanks to the rise of generative AI, both platforms and brands are now rolling out the digital red carpet, making our shopping experiences less "needle in a haystack" and more "personal concierge."

Using LLMs like GPT-4 and PaLM 2, companies are now offering an even more seamless and frictionless (and dare we say fun?) online shopping experience.

Here's how:

🔍 Google 

Sure, zero-click search is a thing, but it’s about to surge… big time. Google recently made Search Generative Experience (SGE) available on Chrome desktop and the Google App in the U.S. 

SGE responds to product search queries with AI-powered snapshots featuring images, reviews, descriptions, and YouTube videos. It also includes links to relevant information via search prompts.

All this data is sourced from Google’s Shopping Graph, comprising over 35 billion (and counting) product listings which updates at a staggering 1.8 billion per hour. 

🏞️ GPT-4 

Powered by Microsoft’s Bing, GPT-4 recently made its multimodal search function available to everyone. 

Got a bike that needs fixing? You can now snap a pic and upload it, and GPT-4 will recommend the right type of Allen wrench for the job.

This new feature empowers brands to boost their products’ visibility and link their offerings to related search queries.

Both major and startup e-commerce companies are embracing AI-powered search to:

  • Recommend their products for ultra-specific search queries
  • Aggregate content that moves shoppers further down the funnel, such as listings, reviews, photos, and videos
  • Cross-sell related products

Check out what these platforms are doing: 

💬 Amazon

Next year, Amazon plans to introduce upgraded generative AI capabilities by launching an AI-powered shopping agent for easier product discovery.

The company aims to mimic the in-store salesperson experience online. By doing so, shoppers can experience real-time product comparisons and get additional details, reviews, and personalized recommendations based on their search.

“They may have known you in person, so may know your preferences, and then they can synthesize all of that information together in natural language conversation with you and help you in your shopping mission,” said Amazon VP Joseph Sirosh. “And if you can scale that up to everything in Amazon, that would be the future mission we want to aspire to."

💃🏻 Showroom uses AI to help users search for clothing from over 750 brands using detailed prompts (similar to Chat GPT). Customers can use specific, long-form prompts to find a dress “similar to what Kylie wore in London, but in blue, and under $150” or look for “black denim jackets with gold buttons, under $225, delivered in 2 days.” This approach brings a more tailored shopping experience, closely mirroring personal shopping assistance.

🪄 Shopify 

Shopify sellers can use Shopify Magic, the platform's AI-enabled suite of tools to build their stores, market their products, and offer customer support.

On top of this, they can also install third-party apps such as Boost and Searchanise to customize the user experience for their customers. These apps offer features such as:

  • Smart search bars that make suggestions as customers input their queries
  • Voice search and personalized recommendations
  • Visual merchandising tools that enable optimization of virtual storefronts by pinning, boosting, demoting, and hiding product listings 

Have you explored any of these AI-powered features? We’d love to hear about your experience.

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