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Amazon jumps on the AI chatbot bandwagon

The news: Amazon is looking to redesign its search capabilities to include generative AI-enabled conversational elements, per a series of job listings first noted by Bloomberg.

  • Per the listings, the retailer is “reimagining Amazon Search with an interactive conversational experience” that would allow shoppers to compare products, receive personalized suggestions, and get answers to any product questions they might have.

Why it matters: Half of US consumers start their purchase journey on Amazon, per an April survey by PowerReviews. That makes Amazon’s search feature a formidable discovery engine, in addition to being a highly valuable sales driver.

  • Amazon Search’s dominance also fueled the company’s emergence as a major advertising player. Three-quarters of SMBs and 65% of enterprise merchants selling on the platform pay for sponsored product listings, per Jungle Scout’s 2023 Amazon Advertising report.
  • In theory, adding a conversational element to its search function could help Amazon improve its notoriously bare-bones browsing experience by surfacing more relevant, personalized products for shoppers. It could also be a corrective to the retailer’s increasingly ad-heavy search results.
  • On the other hand, the move could end up hurting both Amazon’s advertising business and the merchants who have come to rely on it to improve sales and visibility by limiting the amount of available ad inventory—and consequently the opportunities for sellers to get in front of consumers.

The big takeaway: It’s no surprise Amazon is eager to hop on the generative AI bandwagon, especially with Google testing ways to incorporate the tech into its own shopping experience.

  • But much depends on the quality of the tech; even ChatGPT, widely considered the frontrunner in the AI chatbot race, is prone to hallucinations and other mistakes, which in a shopping setting could lead to missed sales opportunities or irate customers.

Go further: Read our latest report on ChatGPT and Generative AI in Search.