Google Cloud Updates AI Tools for Retailers

Google says the new tools will help retailers ensure shelves are adequately stocked and will help enhance e-commerce experiences.
The Google Cloud logo on top of a laptop keyboard.
  • Google Could has revamped its AI tools for retailers
  • New features will help retailers more effectively keep products stocked on shelves.
  • Other new features will help retailers update their websites to make more personalized shopping experiences for consumers.

Google Cloud this week said it would update its tools for retailers with changes that would help them better keep items stocked on shelves and enhance their e-commerce experiences for consumers. 

The changes were detailed in a Jan. 13 release sent to Retail Leader. The first new feature for retailers is a new shelf-checking solution that uses Google Cloud’s Vertex AI (artificial intelligence) platform. The tool uses the tech giant’s “database of facts about people, places and things” to recognize billions of products so retailers can make sure shelves are the right size and appropriately stocked, the company said. 

Google said it would also update its Discovery AI platform by introducing new personalization AI features and a new Browse AI feature that will help retailers modernize their e-commerce experiences for consumers to be “more dynamic and intuitive.” Google Cloud also launched a new Recommendations AI tool that uses machine learning that will enable retailers to optimize product ordering and recommendations panels on their websites. 

“Upheavals over the last few years have reshaped the retail landscape and the tools retailers need to be more efficient, more compelling to their customers and less exposed to future shocks,” said Carrie Tharp, vice president of retail and consumer at Google Cloud, in the release. “Despite uncertainty, the retail industry has enormous opportunity. The leaders of tomorrow will be those who address today’s most pressing in-store and online challenges with the newest technology tools, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

The new shelf-checking AI tools have launched in preview globally, Google said. The tools can identify products from visual and textual features alone, helping retailers more accurately determine which products need to be reordered to keep them in stock. The AI tools can identify products from various angles based on Google’s database of photos, the release said. 

Retailers can feed the AI images of shelves taken from a variety of sources, including ceiling-mounted cameras, photos taken by employees or by inventory-checking robots. Google says the tool should be available to retailers in the coming months. 

Google’s updates to the Discovery AI will improve the “digital window shopping experience” for consumers and retailers, the company said in the release. Google says the new feature will use machine learning to select the best order of products when consumers use a retailer’s website to search for categories, like “kitchenware,” the release said.

Additionally, Google Cloud says changes will also help retailers personalize their e-commerce experience to individual consumers, which its in-house research suggested was important to 75% of shoppers. The technology will personalize search and browsing results to a retailer’s customers based on their past behavior, including clicks, cart and purchases. All personalization is based on a shopper's interactions with the retailer’s website and is not derived from their other Google data, the company said.

As the consulting firm McKinsey & Company noted in 2020, research suggests that personalization has become increasingly important to consumers in large part due to innovative online retailers like Amazon. While consumers might not intentionally seek out personalized e-commerce experiences, they may “depart” a retailer for another if it fails to deliver a successful personalized experience, McKinsey said.