Bringing Inspirational, AI-Powered Search to the Instacart app with Ask Instacart


Instacart, a leading player in the food delivery industry, is embracing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to revolutionize the way customers engage with their grocery shopping. By leveraging the latest advancements in generative AI, Instacart aims to create personalized and value-driven shopping experiences that enhance people’s relationship with food and their preferred retailers and brands. To kickstart this endeavor, Instacart is introducing “Ask Instacart,” a groundbreaking AI-powered search tool designed to assist customers with their grocery-related queries and provide tailored recommendations throughout their shopping journey.

The introduction of Ask Instacart addresses the complex challenge of answering questions like “What’s for dinner?” by considering various factors such as budget, dietary preferences, cooking skills, and personal tastes. This innovative tool will not only save customers time but also inspire their culinary routines and help them make informed decisions by offering personalized suggestions during their shopping experience. For instance, customers can seek guidance on selecting the best fish for tacos or deciding on a perfect Memorial Day BBQ menu. By integrating generative AI into the search function, Instacart aims to deliver an inspiring and engaging experience that enriches customers’ online shopping journeys.

Ask Instacart utilizes the language understanding capabilities of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, combined with Instacart’s proprietary AI models and vast catalog data encompassing over a billion shoppable items from more than 80,000 retail partner locations. Initially available to more than half of Instacart customers, Ask Instacart will gradually scale up to serve all customers across the United States in the coming weeks. This reimagined search experience is seamlessly integrated into the Instacart app’s search bar, offering customers intuitively organized product recommendations and additional useful information about food preparation, product attributes, dietary considerations, and more. Moreover, the enhanced search experience includes personalized question prompts that anticipate customer preferences, remind them of their needs based on their shopping history, and inspire them to explore new products.

With Ask Instacart, customers will have a range of capabilities at their fingertips:

  1. Enhanced Pairing: Gain insights on ingredients or dishes that complement each other, such as finding suitable side dishes for lamb chops.
  2. Substitution Suggestions: Discover alternative ingredients that can be used as replacements, like identifying fish similar to salmon.
  3. Cooking Techniques: Obtain information on cooking techniques and appropriate sauces for specific dishes, such as grilling chicken.
  4. Customized Shopping Lists: Generate ingredient lists for specific meals or recipes, like assembling ingredients for a stir-fry.
  5. Personalized Dietary Inspiration: Explore dietary-specific snack options, such as dairy-free snacks for kids.
  6. Broad Inspiration: Seek inspiration for open-ended queries like the best vegetables to roast.

Furthermore, Ask Instacart aims to align consumer needs, as expressed through their questions, with sponsored product campaigns from brand partners. This integration facilitates a convenient way for customers to discover new products and access familiar favorites.

The launch of Ask Instacart is part of Instacart’s broader strategy to introduce a suite of AI-native initiatives in the coming year and beyond. In March, the company unveiled an Instacart plugin for ChatGPT, enabling users to express their food requirements in natural language and instantly transform them into shoppable items delivered to their door within a remarkably short timeframe.

Instacart recognizes that generative AI technology is still in its early stages and, as a responsible innovator, has developed Ask Instacart as a highly specialized model designed exclusively to address relevant food-related questions. The company is committed to integrating AI features in a responsible manner, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the overall Instacart shopping experience and providing customers with increased food inspiration.