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ChatGPT is at the forefront of the conversation among technologists in 2023.
The chatbot’s combination of input in natural language and output that employs AI in creation is inspiring many of those who explore it to imagine new use cases.
Businesses have been among some of the early adopters of OpenAI’s technology, leading plenty of brands and retailers to consider how generative AI might fit into their workflows. With more experimentation, another question is floating around: How might ChatGPT fit into our everyday lives?
This is being addressed as uses of ChatGPT begin to arise for consumers. Ecommerce platforms are releasing some of the earliest tools that provide recommendations and inspiration for shoppers. Here’s a look at how Newegg, Instacart and Klarna see AI fitting into the shopping experience:
Consumer electronics is often a pacesetter in ecommerce, so it's perhaps not surprising to see Newegg emerge with one of the earliest integrations of ChatGPT.
The generative AI tool is now part of the online computer retailer's PC Builder, which allows users to customize a new desktop PC based on their specifications and budget. With the new feature, users can enter desired attributes into a designated search bar, and ChatGPT will evaluate and recommend component configurations.
It's just one way Newegg is integrating ChatGPT into its operations. Inside the business, the retailer is also using the AI tool as it makes changes to website text, customer service chat, customer email subject lines and SEO.
“We’re always evaluating our ecommerce technology to ensure we’re providing the best customer experience. Through testing, we’ve proven that ChatGPT has a practical use for Newegg based on the added quality and efficiency it creates,” said Lucy Huo, VP of application development for Newegg, in a statement. “We deployed ChatGPT to improve content both on-site and off-site to help customers find what they want and elevate their experience. AI doesn’t replace employees, but it adds resources so employees are available to handle more complex projects. We’re still in the early phases of AI but the benefits for ecommerce may be substantial.”
Shopping and fintech app Klarna said it is getting ready to go live with a new shopping experience that provides curated product recommendations using ChatGPT.
Klarna will offer a plugin on ChatGPT’s store. With this tool, users will be able to ask for shopping advice and inspiration. The results will include product links, which navigate to product pages on Klarna’s search and compare tool.
The goal is to make the product intuitive and easy to use. That means leaving some of the work to the application. Once the plugin is installed, ChatGPT chooses when to use it based on the question asked.
"I’m super excited about our plugin with ChatGPT because it passes my ‘north star’ criteria that I call my ‘mom test’, i.e. would my mom understand and benefit from this. And it does because it’s easy to use and genuinely solves a ton of problems – it drives tremendous value for everyone,” said Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski, in a statement. “Klarna is in a unique position to leverage the best technology and data to help people discover new products and solve problems for consumers at every stage of the shopping journey, and we’ll continue innovating to bring these services to our 150 million consumers.”
(Photo via Instacart)
Grocery technology company Instacart is making ChatGPT a part of the experience of planning meals, and having ingredients delivered.
A new plugin in will combine ChatGPT’s capabilities with Instacart AI to create orders.
When users type in a question, the chatbot will create an Instacart order based on the responses. That means product recommendations become not only shoppable, but already added to cart.
Users can ask questions about meals that are open-ended about necessary ingredients, as well as based on time and dietary restrictions. Or, they can simply ask for inspiration.
“The Instacart ChatGPT plugin works best in helping people figure out what they’d need to make a particular meal or recipe, and helps them account for ingredients they may already have at home or specific dietary restrictions, create an instant shopping list, and get ingredients delivered to their door so they can start cooking,” wrote JJ Zhuang, Instacart’s Chief Architect. “In the future, we’ll be rolling out new capabilities, like the ability to help people shop recipes or ingredients that are on sale or in season.”
Klarna and Instacart's plugins show how ChatGPT can help pave a path to the product page. It offers a hint for ecommerce builders: Generative AI can be a tool to help shoppers find products just as much as it is to create.
These features are just rolling out, so consider them early examples of how ChatGPT may find a place in the shopping experience. Given this fast start, look for more ways generative AI can reshape product discovery and the path to purchase.
Trending in Retail Channels
Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse offered thoughts on messaging amid inflationary shifts in consumer behavior.
After months of elevated inflation and interest rate hikes that have the potential to cool demand, consumers are showing more signs of shifting behavior.
It’s showing up in retail sales data, but there’s also evidence in the observations of the brands responsible for grocery store staples.
The latest example came this week from Campbell Soup Company. CEO Mark Clouse told analysts that the consumer continues to be “resilient” despite continued price increases on food, but found that “consumers are beginning to feel that pressure” as time goes on.
This shows up in the categories they are buying. Overall, Clouse said Campbell sees a shift toward shelf-stable items, and away from more expensive prepared foods.
There is also change in when they make purchases. People are buying more at the beginning of the month. That’s because they are stretching paychecks as long as possible.
These shifts change how the company is communicating with consumers.
Clouse said the changes in behavior are an opportunity to “focus on value within our messaging without necessarily having to chase pricing all the way down.”
“No question that it's important that we protect affordability and that we make that relevant in the categories that we're in," Clouse said. "But I also think there's a lot of ways to frame value in different ways, right?”
A meal cooked with condensed soup may be cheaper than picking up a frozen item or ordering out. Consumers just need a reminder. Even within Campbell’s own portfolio, the company can elevate brands that have more value now, even if they may not always get the limelight.
The open question is whether the shift in behavior will begin to show up in the results of the companies that have raised prices. Campbell’s overall net sales grew 5% for the quarter ended April 30, while gross profit margins held steady around 30%. But the category-level results were more uneven. U.S. soup sales declined 11%, though the company said that was owed to comparisons with the quarter when supply chains reopened a year ago and expressed confidence that the category is seeing a longer-term resurgence as more people cook at home following the pandemic. Snacks, which includes Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm, were up 12% And while net sales increased overall, the amount of products people are buying is declining. Volumes were down 7%.
These are trends happening across the grocery store. Campbell is continuing to compete. It is leading with iconic brands, and a host of different ways to consume them. It is following that up with innovation that makes the products stand out. Then, it is driving home messaging that shows consumers how to fit the products into their lives, and even their tightening spending plans.
Campbell Soup is more than 150 years old, and has seen plenty of difficult economic environments. It is also a different business today, and will continue to evolve. At the end of the day, continued execution is what’s required.
“If it's good food, people are going to buy it, especially if it's a great value,” Clouse said.