Instacart’s AI chatbot is ready to tell you what wine pairs with that

After teasing it in March, the same-day grocery delivery platform is rolling out an AI-powered search tool as it expands its artificial intelligence capabilities.
Instacart is rolling out an AI-powered chatbot. / Photo: Instacart

Not sure what to bring to the potluck? Looking for gluten-free after-school snacks? Or maybe you’re simply stumped on what to make for dinner.

Instacart on Wednesday said the full-scale rollout of its artificial intelligence-powered chatbot will come to the rescue of question-filled shoppers—while giving a lift to grocery sales in the process.

The same-day delivery platform announced the nationwide rollout of Ask Instacart, an AI-powered search tool the San Francisco-based company first teased in March.

“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 delivery the ingredients for the perfect meal in as fast as an hour,” Instacart Chief Architect JJ Zhuang said in a statement. “ … (B)y 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.”

The technology could have marketing potential for consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers: Instacart said the chatbot will help match consumer queries with “brand partners’ sponsored product campaigns.”

Instacart said the search tool is just the beginning of its expanding suite of AI-powered initiatives that will be rolled out over the next year and beyond.

In March, the tech company launched an Instacart plugin for popular AI platform ChatGPT that lets users request food in “natural language,” which is transformed into a shoppable ingredient list. Instacart said it plans to launch similar plugins with chatbots via Microsoft Bing and Google Bard in the coming months.

Ask Instacart relies on the language understanding capabilities of Open AI’s ChatGPT API and Instacart’s AI models, along with its catalog of more than a billion shoppable items across 80,000 retail locations, the tech company said.

It will be embedded in the search bar in the Instacart app, to offer product recommendations, Instacart said.

Instacart said the new service is starting to roll out to its customers this week, expanding to reach all U.S. and Canadian customers in the coming weeks. (It was not available to a Chicago-based WGB editor as of Wednesday.)

Ask Instacart’s recommendations are “intuitively organized,” the company said.

“The newly enhanced search experience also incorporates personalized question prompts into the search bar that anticipate customer preferences, remind them of their needs based on their shopping history and inspire them to discover new products,” Instacart said.



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