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Instacart Introduces AI-Powered Food Inspiration Search Tool


Last updated on June 9th, 2023 at 04:51 pm

San Francisco-based Instacart has launched Ask Instacart, an AI-powered search tool designed to assist with customers’ grocery shopping questions by offering personalized recommendations throughout the shopping experience.

By using the language understanding capabilities of OpenAI’s ChatGPT API and Instacart’s own AI models and catalog data that spans more than a billion shoppable items across more than 80,000 retail partner locations, the program invites customers to ask questions about what to eat and how to make it.

Ask Instacart is a reimagined search experience embedded in the search bar in the Instacart app, providing customers with product recommendations, as well as additional useful information about food preparation, product attributes and dietary considerations. The search experience also incorporates personalized question prompts into the search bar that anticipate customer preferences and inspires them to discover new products.

“A simple question like ‘What’s for dinner?’ is among the most complex for families everywhere to answer. 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, chief architect at Instacart.

“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.”

With Ask Instacart, customers will be able to:

  • Better understand what ingredients or dishes pair well with others, such as, “What kind of side dishes should I serve with lamb chops?”
  • Discover alternative ingredients that can be swapped for one another, such as, “What fish is similar to salmon?”
  • Get more information on cooking techniques, such as, “What are good sauces for grilling chicken?”
  • Generate lists of ingredients if they have a meal in mind, such as, “What can I use in a stir fry?”
  • Learn more about item attributes so they can get personalized dietary inspiration, such as, “What are dairy-free snacks for kids?”
  • Discover broader, context-specific inspiration for more open-ended queries, such as, “What are the best veggies to roast?”

Further adding to the experience, Ask Instacart will help match consumer needs – through the questions asked – with brand partners’ sponsored product campaigns, creating a way for people to discover new products and access the products they already know and love.

The Ask Instacart launch comes as part of a growing suite of new AI-native initiatives from Instacart that it is working to roll out over the next year and beyond. In March, the company debuted an Instacart plugin for ChatGPT, which lets ChatGPT users express their food needs in natural language, with Instacart’s ability to make those needs shoppable with ingredients delivered to homes in as fast as an hour.

Since that launch, the Instacart plugin has been made available to all ChatGPT Plus subscribers, and Instacart has plans to launch additional plugins with Microsoft Bing and Google Bard in the coming months.

For more information, visit instacart.com/company.

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