Google unveils new AI tools to help boost retail sales

Google Cloud has introduced new and upgraded artificial intelligence (AI) tools in an attempt to reduce retailers' losses due to missed sales and transform the online shopping experience.

A new self-checking solution is designed to help retailers improve on-shelf product availability since empty shelves cost US retailers $82 billion in missed sales in 2021 alone. The tool is powered by two machine learning models — a product recognizer and a tag recognizer.

"The shelf checking AI enables retailers to solve a very difficult problem: how to identify products of all types, at scale, based solely on the visual and text features of a product, and then translate that data into actionable insights," Google said.

This technology is expected to be generally available to retailers globally in the coming months.

The second AI solution by Google is designed to make the online shopping experience "more modern, faster, intuitive, and fulfilling for shoppers." It's an AI-powered browse feature in Google's Discovery AI solutions for retailers.

Once shoppers choose a shopping category, for example, “lingerie”, the tool uses machine learning to select the optimal ordering of products.

"Over time, the AI learns the ideal product ordering for each page on an e-commerce site using historical data, optimizing how and what products are shown for accuracy, relevance, and likelihood of making a sale," Google said.

Historically, it added, retailer sites have sorted product results based on either category bestseller lists or human-written rules. "This browse technology takes a whole new approach, self-curating, learning from experience, and requiring no manual intervention."

Google also introduced a new AI-driven personalization capability that customizes the search results on a retailer's website, saying that the majority of shoppers prefer brands that personalize interactions.

Essentially, it is a "product-pattern recognizer" that gives a shopper results based solely on their interactions on that specific retailer's e-commerce site and are not linked to their Google account activity.

Google has also updated Recommendations AI – a solution that uses machine learning to help retailers bring product recommendations to their shoppers. The tool allows retailers to "dynamically decide what product recommendation panels to uniquely show to a shopper."

"Compared to baseline recommendation systems used by Google Cloud customers, Recommendations AI has shown double-digit uplift in conversion and clickthrough rates in experiments controlled by retailers using the technology. The new page-level optimization, revenue optimization, and buy-it-again models are now globally available to retailers," Google said.