July 21, 2024

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Amazon Plans to Add ChatGPT-Style Search to Its Online Store

(Bloomberg) — Amazon.com Inc. plans to bring ChatGPT-style product search to its web store, rivaling efforts by Microsoft Corp. and Google to weave generative artificial intelligence into their search engines.

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The e-commerce giant’s ambitions appear in recent job postings reviewed by Bloomberg News. One listing seeking a senior software development engineer says the company is “reimagining Amazon Search with an interactive conversational experience” designed to help users find answers to questions, compare products and receive personalized suggestions.

“We’re looking for the best and brightest across Amazon to help us realize and deliver this vision to our customers right away,” the company said in the listing, which was posted on its jobs board last month. “This will be a once in a generation transformation for Search.”

Another posted job would be part of “a new AI-first initiative to re-architect and reinvent the way we do search through the use of extremely large scale next-generation deep learning techniques.”

Amazon spokesperson Keri Bertolino declined to comment on the job listings. “We are significantly investing in generative AI across all of our businesses,” she said in an email.

Conversational product search has the potential to reshape a key element of Amazon’s core retail business. The search bar at the top of the app and home page in recent years have become the default gateway for millions of shoppers seeking to find a specific product. More than half of US shoppers say they start product searches on Amazon.com, a higher share than Google, according a survey conducted earlier this year by Jungle Scout, a maker of software for sellers on Amazon.

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Early deployments of generative AI by Microsoft, Alphabet Inc.’s Google and others have been beset by errors in response to basic questions. But they also show how a beefed-up Microsoft Bing or Google search could offer users a more valuable way to find products.

Asking Microsoft Bing — which is powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT – to show the five best electric razors pulled up a roster of five products, including citations to reviews from Men’s Health and GQ, along with links to stores selling the products. The same search on Amazon yields a pair of ads, followed by dozens of products.

Amazon’s search experience has been criticized in recent years for the increased share of results devoted to ads and other sponsored content.

Generative AI uses vast quantities of data to assemble large language models that can help create text or images following a prompt. Amazon Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy said on an earnings call last month that the technology “presents a remarkable opportunity to transform virtually every customer experience.”

Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud-computing unit, in April announced a set of services that rely on advances in generative AI. They have yet to be widely released. Meanwhile, the company is hoping to use similar technology to improve its Alexa voice assistant, Insider reported. Amazon is also building a team to use artificial intelligence tools to create photos and videos for advertising campaigns, the Information reported this month.

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