How to Optimize Your Ecommerce Value Proposition
By Tom Wintaugh
As consumers begin turning to AI for product recommendations, how can merchants get their products noticed?
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As new AI technology continues to gain traction for everyday language and content-related tasks, a new trend is starting to appear—ecommerce shoppers using ChatGPT and other AI text generators for product discovery. Merchants have little to no control over the content generated by these AI tools, including messaging, accurate information, or linkage to product pages. How can ecommerce merchants get products listed by ChatGPT? In this blog we’ll explore if it’s possible to leverage this trend, and other ways that AI tools can increase traffic to your products.
ChatGPT, Bard, and LaMDA may seem like sentient assistants, but they are in fact "Large Language Models"—simulating human intelligence and speech by training on content found on the internet. These LLMs can summarize concepts, find connections, and predict what word comes next in a sentence.
By examining enormous amounts of data (drawn from the entire content available online), the AI can generate content. However, it is not thinking, conversing, or making value judgments on what it finds. So when ChatGPT features an ecommerce product page linked in its output, it is not recommending it, nor has it been paid to share the link. It simply found that link relevant to the user prompt because it used the same keywords.
In addition to generating content, some users are also using AI language tools for research into topics and products. This is a trend that is being accelerated by the inclusion of new AI tools directly into search engine UI on Google and Bing. This impacts ecommerce sellers because AI outputs sometimes contain links to live product pages, which users can then click through to directly from the ChatGPT or Bard interface.
For example, a user who types “men’s swim cap” into Bard will be shown a handful of links to actual Amazon product listings for swim caps. The result is not consistent though—each time the same prompt is entered, different product links are offered, including some that do not match the request at all.
There is currently no way to directly get products listed by ChatGPT, as it is a large language model and not an ecommerce platform or marketplace. It has no feature for users to boost content with paid placement. For now, the only way to be included in these results is to post relevant content to your website, rank on search engines with conventional SEO techniques, and then wait for an AI language generator to find that content when performing a user request.
Furthermore, not all AI tools search the live internet. ChatGPT completed its training in 2021, so the links it shares in results are dated from 2021 and earlier. Even if a product page is featured, it may not be up to date, or represent what is actually available today.
Finally, AI tools are not always 100% accurate. It is common for AI outputs to occasionally contain overly generalized or even incorrect information. So it’s possible that the AI may make claims about a product or company which are not factual.
For these reasons, ChatGPT and other AI are not reliable means for customers to discover new products.
There are a few ways to use ChatGPT to help you get your products more visibility, and higher search rankings.
At this time, there is no known way for merchants to get their products featured in ChatGPT or other AI output results. As these tools are trained on relevant internet content in order to build answers to queries, your best bet is to continue following best practices to get content ranked by search engines, so that when AI bots search online for answers, they will find your content to be the most relevant and possibly include it in answers. But by following the above techniques, you can start using ChatGPT to generate product descriptions, titles, and other written site content that will attract more customers, the “old fashioned” way.
Katy Ellquist, Miva’s Digital Marketing Strategist, is an accomplished writer, marketer, and social media analyst who has created sophisticated content campaigns for a broad range of professional clients. She brings to Miva a complex understanding of ecommerce trends and techniques, building upon extensive digital agency experience and a prior role as direct liaison to Miva’s top accounts. Katy is a regular contributor to the Miva blog, covering essential ecommerce topics like design & development strategy, site optimization, and omnichannel selling, with the goal of increasing the actionable knowledgebase of the entire Miva community.
Tom is a Content Marketing Specialist at Miva.