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By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

March 1, 2023 | 4 min read

Scheduled to launch later this year, the new search function will leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to assist shoppers using the app.

Online grocery delivery service Instacart is joining forces with ChatGPT, the uber-popular AI-powered chatbot developed by OpenAI that’s been sending shockwaves through the marketing world since its release in late 2022.

Here’s what you need to know about the new feature:

OpenAI announced that ChatGPT is officially available through the company’s application programming interface (API), “giving developers access to cutting-edge language (not just chat!) and speech-to-text capabilities,” per a blog post from the company.

Instacart’s new feature, dubbed “Ask Instacart,” will enable users to ask questions that will help them to create and refine shopping lists. In a demo video, an invisible user types the word “lunch” into the Ask Instacart chatbox at the top of the app’s user interface. A menu of possible questions appears below the box, including “What are some vegetarian and vegan lunch ideas?” and “What’s a healthy lunch for my kids?” The user selects the latter question, at which point the app responds by generating lists of ingredients for simple and nutritious lunches, as well as by suggesting some other relevant questions.

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The brand is positioning its new AI-powered tool as a kind of shopping assistant, a mechanism that can help customers save time and energy. “Grocery shopping can require a big mental load, with a lot of factors at play, like budget, health and nutrition, personal tastes, seasonality, culinary skills, prep time, and recipe inspiration,” JJ Zhuang, chief architect at Instacart, said in a statement.

“What if AI could take on that mental load, and we could help the household leaders who are commonly responsible for grocery shopping, meal planning, and putting food on the table – and actually make grocery shopping truly fun? Instacart’s AI system when integrated with OpenAI’s ChatGPT will enable us to do exactly that, and we’re thrilled to start experimenting with what’s possible in the Instacart app.”

Instacart was listed in today's OpenAI blog post as being among the first brands to incorporate the ChatGPT API into a campaign. Snap was as well – earlier this week, the tech and social media brand unveiled My AI, a new in-app service based on ChatGPT that’s available to paid subscribers of Snapchat+.

ChatGPT has been prodigiously viral; it was recently estimated to be the fastest-growing consumer application in history, reaching around 100m users in January, just two months after it was launched. In response, many brands have been seeking an angle from which they can leverage AI. Coke, Patrón and Spectrum Reach, for example, have all recently taken steps to incorporate the technology into their business models.

Ask Instacart is slated to launch later this year.

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