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How Instacart Is Using ChatGPT to Enhance the Search Experience

Grocery tech company debuts new 'Ask Instacart' tool
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer

Some things don’t change – like the age-old question of “What’s for dinner?” – but Instacart is leveraging evolving technologies to provide better, more relevant answers. The grocery tech company is introducing "Ask Instacart," a search tool that uses artificial intelligence to improve the search experience and integrate searches with solutions.

The latest search tool combines OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Instacart’s own AI models and data that encompass more than a billion shoppable items across more than 80,000 retail partner locations. As its name suggests, Ask Instacart receives and answers shopper queries with information and personalized suggestions.

Customers simply use the search bar in the Instacart app to get started. Personalized question prompts can anticipate shopper preferences, remind them of needs based on their shopping history and provide recommendations on new products.

By using this novel tool, users can access helpful information touching on almost all aspects of food and beverage shopping, preparation and consumption. "From decisions about budget and dietary specifications to cooking skills, personal preferences, and so much more, Ask Instacart can help customers answer all of their food questions and deliver the ingredients for the perfect meal in as fast as an hour," said JJ Zhuang, Instacart’s chief architect. "Whether it's, ‘What's the best fish for tacos?’ or ‘What should I make for a Memorial Day BBQ?,’ by supercharging Instacart search with generative AI we can create a truly inspiring experience that unlocks even more opportunities to engage and help customers as they shop online from their favorite retailers."

As it improves the search experience, Instacart is bringing in its supplier partners, too. The Ask Instacart tool can match consumer queries with a brand’s sponsored campaign.

The company underscored the point that it is incorporating AI into its platforms “in a responsible manner.” In addition to Ask Instacart, Instacart recently added an Instacart plugin for ChatGPT and is working on more plugins with Microsoft Bing and Google Bard.

Instacart partners with more than 1,100 national, regional and local retail banners to facilitate online shopping, delivery and pickup services from stores across North America on the Instacart Marketplace. The company has approximately 600,000 shoppers picking, packing and delivering orders.

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