Skip to main content

Instacart Rolling Out AI-Enhanced Search Experience

Powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT API, Ask Instacart can answer customers' grocery shopping questions and serve personalized recommendations and question prompts based on their shopping history.

Instacart has launched Ask Instacart, an AI-powered search tool designed to answer customers' grocery shopping questions and serve personalized recommendations throughout the user experience.

The in-app assistant is powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT API and leverages the chatbot’s language understanding capabilities as well as Instacart’s own AI models and catalog data that spans more than one billion shoppable items across 80,000 retail partner locations, according to a May 31 media release from Instacart.


Ask Instacart began rolling out to users on May 31 and will become available to all U.S. customers over the coming weeks.

Instacart calls the tool a “reimagined yet still familiar search experience” directly embedded in the app’s search bar, providing customers with product recommendations that are “intuitively organized” as well as additional information about food preparation, product attributes and dietary considerations, to name a few, per the release. The enhanced search experience also incorporates personalized question prompts into the search bar that anticipates customer preferences, reminds users of their needs based on their shopping history and inspires them to discover new products.

Among its purposes, customers can use Ask Instacart to:

  • Ask questions about dish/ingredient pairings (e.g., what kind of side dishes should I serve with lamb chops?).
  • Discover alternative ingredients that can be swapped for one another (e.g., what fish is similar to salmon?).
  • Get more information on cooking techniques (e.g., what are good sauces for grilling chicken?).
  • Generate lists of ingredients if they have a meal in mind.
  • Learn more about item attributes and explore options for dietary restrictions (e.g., what are dairy-free snacks for kids?).
  • Discover broader, context-specific inspiration for more open-ended queries, such as "What are the best veggies to roast?"

In addition, Ask Instacart can match consumer needs based on the questions they’ve asked with brand partners' sponsored product campaigns.

Instacart says the launch of the search assistant is part of a growing suite of AI initiatives the company is working to roll out over the next year and beyond. In March, the company debuted a ChatGPT plugin, which lets ChatGPT Plus subscribers create shoppable orders by expressing their food needs in “natural language,” per the release. Instacart also has plans to launch additional plugins with Microsoft Bing and Google Bard in the coming months.

“At Instacart, we know that generative AI technology is still in its early stages, so Ask Instacart is a highly specialized model designed to only respond to relevant food-related questions,” the company said in the release. “Instacart is committed to incorporating AI features into our products in a responsible manner, with a goal of enhancing the overall Instacart shopping experience and delivering more food inspiration to customers.”

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds