Amazon will soon add a ChatGPT-style search to its online store

A recent job posting indicated that the e-commerce giant is 'reimagining Amazon Search with an interactive conversational experience.'
17 May 2023

Amazon will soon add a ChatGPT-style search to its online store. (Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP)

In April, Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud arm of Inc, made an official move indicating its participation in the generative AI race – but it did not involve ChatGPT or chatbots. Instead, AWS made two new AI language models available for customers to build their own bots. 

Now, as the tech juggernaut watches its two closest rivals, Microsoft and Google, come up with their cutting-edge generative AI models, Amazon will certainly not intend to be left behind. Amazon may now incorporate a ChatGPT-style product search into its web store. According to Bloomberg News, the e-commerce giant’s ambitions appear in recent job postings.

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.

The listing was posted on its jobs board last month. “This will be a once-in-a-generation transformation for Search,” Amazon said. Another job posting indicated that the position is “a new AI-first initiative to re-architect and reinvent the way we do search through the use of huge scale next-generation deep learning techniques.”

Conversational product search like ChatGPT has the potential to reshape a vital element of the core retail business of Amazon. In recent years, the search bar at the top of the app and homepage has become the default gateway for millions of shoppers seeking a specific product. 

For context, based on a survey by Jungle Scout, a software maker for sellers on Amazon, more than half of US shoppers say they start product searches on Amazon, a higher share than Google. Amazon spokesperson Keri Bertolino however, declined to comment specifically on the job listings. “We are significantly investing in generative AI across all of our businesses,” she said in an email to Bloomberg.

Amazon Vs. Google Search: What’s the difference without a ChatGPT-like bot?

Amazon and Google search engines share fundamental similarities. Both rely on sophisticated algorithms and keywords to rank results and satisfy users. Both also display two types of results: paid and organic. The main difference between Amazon vs. Google search engines is user intent. Google users are in research and discovery mode, whereas Amazon users are in buying mode and typically know exactly what they’re searching for.

Additionally, Amazon and Google use different keywords to drive qualified traffic. Keywords on Amazon are more product-focused, highlighting benefits or special features. On the other hand, Google looks at long-tail keywords, loading speed, and backlinks when ranking a page.

Even Google, during its I/O conference last week, announced that it will apply generative AI to shopping searches as part of a series of new capabilities. According to a blog post, Google is now testing a new form of shopping search where users who type in the kind of item they are loooking for get a “snapshot of noteworthy products to consider and products that fit the bill.”

Beyond search – a robot, perhaps?

Reports of a further development have been surfacing recently, based on some internal documents from Amazon seen by Insider. According to the documents, Amazon is working on Burnham – a new AI robot project that adds a layer of “intelligence and a conversational spoken interface” to a smart home robot.

It will be an upgraded version of Amazon’s Astro, and according to Insider, the documents indicate that the technology “remembers what it saw and understood.” The robot can “engage in a Q&A dialogue on what it saw.” The “Contextual Understanding,” as Amazon describes the tech in the documents, is its “latest and most advanced AI technology designed to make robots more intelligent, more useful, and more conversational.” 

It’s best to rein in any excitement for a while, though. Amazon acknowledges in the documents  that it will be a long time before Burnham can be commercialized.