Google plans to weave generative AI into Shopping

The news: Google is using Shopping to test its new generative AI-based search experience, Search Generative Experience (SGE), to see whether arming consumers with more information simplifies their purchase decisions.

  • The tool is built on Google’s Shopping Graph, which has more than 35 billion product listings.
  • Google is making SGE results available as part of its experimental “Search labs” program, with a waitlist opening today for those in the US.

How it works: When a consumer searches a product query, such as “good bike for five-mile commute with hills,” they will see an overview of the main factors to consider, products that fit the bill, reviews, ratings, and prices. They can ask more questions, such as “which ebike is the safest?”

  • For example, the bike search might yield an overview that steers the shopper to ebikes given that they can cut a commute time in half, along with results that highlight models that are well-suited to navigate hills or good for commutes. Regular search results appear further down the page.
  • SGE will continue to feature search ads in dedicated ad slots throughout the page.

The big takeaway: If Google wants to maintain its place within the online shopping ecosystem, it needs to evolve, given that younger consumers have vastly different online habits from their older peers. For example, more Gen Z consumers—43%—start their online product searches on TikTok than on Google or another search engine, per Jungle Scout’s Q1 2023 Consumer Trends Report.

  • Google needs to figure out how generative AI can offer a more engaging, personalized experience that guides shoppers to their purchase decisions before another company seeks to fill that vacuum.