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Google launches a suite of retail AI products

Google released AI products for online retailers as the tech giant increases its focus on industry verticals. The new products are designed for small and large retailers.

Google Cloud launched a new suite of AI-powered products for retailers, marking another step in the tech giant's courtship of the retail industry. 

The three new tools, released Jan. 19, come as more retailers have shifted their focus away from physical stores and onto online marketplaces amid the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The AI suite is aimed at large and small retailers, noted R "Ray" Wang, founder of Constellation Research.

"These are the innovations Google can put out to help not only small businesses, but large businesses compete with other digital giants," he said. 

Google Cloud, which boasts contracts with a number of large retailers, competes with several major technology vendors in this market, including Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce.

The suite

Included in the suite is Recommendations AI, which enables retailers to give their customers highly personalized product recommendations. Powered by Google Cloud's machine learning architecture, the tool pulls a customer's shopping history and considers recent behavior changes in order to craft recommendations. It also takes into account variables such as pricing.

Vision API Product Search, another tool in the new group of retailer products, enables shoppers to search for products using images. After uploading a picture of a product, the tool combs the retailer's catalog for similar-looking items and then gives customers a ranked list of similar products.

These are the innovations Google can put out to help not only small businesses, but large businesses compete with other digital giants.
R 'Ray' WangFounder, Constellation Research

Both Vision API Product Search and Recommendations AI are generally available. 

A product search tool, available in private preview, rounds out the new retailer suite. Retailers can use Google Cloud Search for Retail to embed Google's search capabilities in their websites and mobile applications, enabling customers to search for products more efficiently. 

The more the better

In theory, the more retailers that use these products, the better the technology will become, Wang noted. 

"The more retailers, the more high-quality data," he said. "The more high-quality data, the smarter the AI gets, and everyone benefits."

"Everyone" includes Google, which has targeted retailers in recent years with a series of products designed specifically for retailers. Retail, noted Wang, is a crucial industry for the tech giant.

The journey to optimized retail pricing
The journey to optimized retail pricing

He predicted that over the next year, Google would increase its focus on industry vertical product suites.

In 2020, Google launched several vertical product bundles, including ones focused on the mortgage industry, contact centers, and retailers.

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