Google and Shopify integrate AI for retailers

  • April 3, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Shopify and Google Cloud have integrated artificial intelligence (AI) to brings ecommerce capabilities to retailers and merchants worldwide.

Shopify merchants can now deploy advanced search and browse experiences using Google Cloud’s Discovery AI; Shopify merchant Rainbow Shops is the first to use this successfully.

Ahead of last month’s Shoptalk show in Las Vegas, Shopify and Google Cloud announced the integration that lets retailers using Commerce Components – Shopify’s enterprise retail offering – to leverage Google search capabilities and AI innovations.

Enterprise brands on Shopify can access Google Cloud’s Discovery Al directly through Commerce Components, Shopify’s composable stack for enterprise retail. This integration, which can now be used by Shopify merchants globally and is available in most languages, increases access to Google’s search and browsing technologies so retailers can create more fluid and fruitful shopping experiences for their customers.

Shopify and Google Cloud’s integration equips enterprise brands with AI-driven product discovery capabilities that address real-world business challenges, including:

  • Google Cloud Retail Search,which provides query understanding that can produce better results from even broad queries, including non-product and semantic searches, to match product attributes with web-site content for fast, relevant product discovery.
  • AI-powered browse feature that uses machine learning to select the optimal ordering of products on a retailer’s ecommerce site once shoppers choose a category, such as “women’s jackets” or “kitchenware”. Over time, the AI learns the preferred product ordering for each page on an ecommerce site using historical data, optimising how and what products are shown for accuracy, relevance and likelihood of making a sale.
  • AI-driven personalisation customises the results customers get when they search and browse retailers’ web sites. The AI underpinning the personalisation capability uses a customer’s behaviour on an ecommerce site, such as their clicks, cart, purchases and other information, to determine shopper taste and preferences.
  • Recommendations AI that helps retailers deliver personalised recommendations at scale. Recent upgrades to Recommendations AI can make a retailer’s ecommerce properties more personalised, dynamic and helpful for individual customers.
  • Security and privacy to help ensure retailer data are isolated with access controls and are only used to deliver relevant search results on their own properties.

“We’re thrilled to continue our long-standing partnership with Google Cloud,” said Harley Finkelstein, president of Shopify. “We’re bringing together the best in commerce with the best in search to solve a complex and costly problem for enterprise retailers – world-class search and discovery for the online store.” 

Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud, added: “Shopify integrating Google Cloud’s Discovery AI technology into its enterprise retail puts the power of AI directly into the hands of merchants and brands to solve everyday problems. Now, retailers will be able to enhance their digital properties with better product discovery experiences, creating more fulfilling shopping experiences for their customers.”

Rainbow Shops, a Shopify merchant and retail apparel chain with more than 1000 stores, recently integrated Google Cloud’s Discovery AI for retail technology directly into its own digital domains. After experiencing limitations with other search and product discovery options, Rainbow Shops approached Shopify about the possibility of using Google Cloud’s search and browse capabilities.

When compared with other specialty search services, Rainbow Shops’ internal testing found Google Cloud could deliver helpful results to an assortment of test queries 100% of the time. In addition to accuracy, Rainbow Shops saw an immediate reduction in the amount of time and effort its teams previously spent manually refining search results, creating redirects, and pulling up to 50 other levers to get useful results.

Rainbow Shops is using Google Cloud’s Retail Search technology and, importantly, it took less than a week for Google Cloud’s AI tools to be integrated into Rainbow Shops’ online store and mobile app, just before last year’s Cyber Week peak shopping moment.

“Now our search bar can handle almost anything our shoppers throw at it, surfacing helpful product results for nuanced queries like ‘lbd’ (little black dress) and extremely general searches like ‘Mardi Gras’,” said David Cost, vice president at Rainbow Shops “We’ve also significantly advanced our ability to produce relevant results when a shopper has a typo in their query, which is commonly seen among our many customers now shopping on mobile devices. Rainbow Shops is using Google Cloud’s AI tools to create an undeniably better shopping experience for our customers. In just three months, we’ve already seen search volume increase 48% and our bounce rate on visits has decreased threefold.”

Despite the continued rise in online shopping, many shoppers report hurdles in the product discovery experience on retailers’ ecommerce properties. Research from a Google Cloud-commissioned Harris Poll survey found that search abandonment – when a shopper searches for a product on a retailer’s web site or mobile app, but doesn’t find what they are looking for – costs retailers more than $2tn annually globally, and more than $234bn in the USA alone.

Shoppers themselves say they depend on the search function or search box when shopping; it’s the most common way US consumers search for products on retail web sites (69%), followed closely by general web-site browsing (63%). The problem is retailers’ search experiences lack consistency, as only one in ten US shoppers say they get exact results for their queries (12%) or good alternatives (11%) every time they use the search function on a retailer’s site.

In fact, more than three in four US consumers (76%) say in the past month they have used the search function or search box on a retail web site and it did not provide the item they were looking for.

Rainbow Shops is a fashion retailer with over 1000 locations in the USA, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands as well as online. It offers women’s, juniors’, plus size and children’s clothing, as well as shoes and accessories.