Instacart launches AI-powered assistant

Powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT API, Instacart says the new assistant will help shoppers navigate grocery purchases.
The Instacart logo on an iPhone.
  • Instacart has launched an in-app AI-powered assistant.
  • Ask Instacart will let shoppers ask questions about food for personalized responses. 
  • The technology is powered by OpenAI’s ChaptGPT and uses first-party data from Instacart. 

Instacart in May launched Ask Instacart, an AI-powered assistant that it says will help shoppers navigate e-commerce grocery purchases. 

The grocery technology proivder detailed the new AI assistant in a May 31 release that said Ask Instacart would answer questions, help shoppers save time and make food-related decisions through personalized answers and recommendations. 

The technology is powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT API and relies on Instacart’s first-party models and data from more than 80,000 retailer partner locations, the release said. Instacart began rolling out to customers in the U.S. on May 31, and it will continue to launch nationwide in the coming weeks, Instacart said.

The AI assistant is found directly in the search bar of the Instacart app. 

Instacart says shoppers can use it for a variety of purposes including to: 

  • Ask questions about what side dishes to pair with entrees. 
  • Ask it about ingredient substitutions. 
  • Learn more about cooking techniques. 
  • Get ingredient lists for meals.
  • Ask about dietary restrictions. 
  • Answer open-ended questions about cooking. 

Ask Instacart will also feature personalized question prompts in the search bar that Instacart said will anticipate customer needs and remind them of their needs based on their previous Instacart shopping history. The technology will also pair with Instacart's media network, offering shoppers its brand partners’ campaigns when they use the AI-powered assistant.

“From decisions about budget and dietary specifications to cooking skills, personal preferences and so much more, Ask Instacart can help customers answer all of their food questions and deliver the ingredients for the perfect meal in as fast as an hour," said JJ Zhuang, chief architect at Instacart, in the release. 

Instacart’s other AI efforts include a ChatGPT plugin available to ChatGPT Plus subscribers that launched in March and lets shoppers create shoppable orders by expressing their food needs and preferences using “natural languages,” according to Instacart. The company also said it’s working to launch more AI plugins through Microsoft Bing and Google Bard later in the coming months.

The company said it is committed to incorporating AI into its products responsibly, and Ask Instacart will only answer food-related questions.