Google Showcases 9 AI-Driven Shopping Features in Search

Google, search, shopping, new features, Search On

Google’s third annual “Search On” event Wednesday (Sept. 28) showed that the search engine giant sees enhancements to search as the big unlock from engagement to commerce, based on what one Google executive described as “frankly unprecedented” advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Talking up visual enhancements as it pursues a “more than a search engine” strategy that took off over the pandemic, a slew of new shopping features offer a good glimpse at Google’s ambitions to be a prime mover in online commerce through new features and functions.

First among nine new shopping features Google unveiled at Search On and in a blog post by Lilian Rincon, senior director of product, shopping, is the ability to search by saying “shop,” followed by whatever item a user is looking for.

Search results now return visual feed of products, research tools and localized inventory, and it’s also expanding shoppable search beyond apparel to categories like electronics and beauty. “Shop the look” brings up outfit options that go with items being searched — Google used bomber jackets as an example — along with purchase options in the feed, and the company is also taking the image-based “Multisearch” feature global.

Other new features include a “Trending” discoverability option showing items that are popular across Google searches, as well as “Shop in 3D” and an automation tool for 360-degree 3D display. Google noted that “people engage with 3D images almost 50% more than static ones.”

Related: Google Rolls out Tweaks to Make YouTube, Search More Shoppable

That feature pairs well with the “Discover” offering in the Google app, which suggests items in the vein of other items the user has recently searched, viewed or purchased.

Additionally, the “Buying Guide” feature is meant to inform shoppers about more complex and often higher-ticket purchases, while “Page insights” offers ratings, reviews and product updates. It’s also added more product “Filters” that show options within items being searched.

Google is also adding deeper personalization using AI, which remembers a shopper’s preferences and makes recommendations based on past searches and purchases. Personalization can be switched off if users are uncomfortable with it.

Also new are “Discussions and forums” with user-generated content, aiming to help consumers make informed buying decisions, and a new translation feature that lets users read news from any source in any language.

Finding Food and Fun

Moving on to food, Google said “research shows 40% of people already have a dish in mind when they search for food,” adding that “in the coming months you’ll be able to search for any dish and see the local places that offer it.” Multisearch factors in here, as well.

See also: Alphabet’s Pichai Says AI to Power New Wave of Growth for Google Search

It’s even moving into Yelp territory with a feature that analyzes reviews and images of restaurants. Along these lines, Google is also “expanding our coverage of digital menus, and making them more visually rich and reliable. We combine menu information provided by people and merchants, and found on restaurant websites that use open standards for data sharing.”

Also announced at Search On were visual and recommendation enhancements to Google Maps.