Company Updates

Introducing the Instacart Plugin for ChatGPT

JJ Zhuang

JJ Zhuang

Mar 23, 2023

If you’ve ever been in charge of meal planning or grocery shopping for your household, you know it takes a lot of thinking and planning. You have to consider factors like what your family members like to eat, health and nutrition implications, dietary preferences, what’s in season, your culinary skills, how much prep time you might have to make a meal after work, what’s already in the pantry or the fridge, and your budget. These are complex needs and they require a lot of mental labor — but with the rise of smart AI technology, we have a chance to make meal planning easier, more fun, and maybe even a little bit magical.

Today, we’re starting to roll out an Instacart plugin for ChatGPT in collaboration with OpenAI. By combining ChatGPT’s ability to enable people to express their needs in natural language, with Instacart’s ability to make those needs instantly shoppable, the Instacart plugin lets ChatGPT users turn the ever-present “dinner dilemma” into instant inspiration and, ultimately, instant gratification with ingredients delivered to their door in as fast as an hour so they can get cooking.

What’s a plugin, and what does the Instacart ChatGPT plugin do?

A plugin is a small piece of software that can be added to a larger software program to extend its functionality and give it new features or capabilities. The Instacart ChatGPT plugin will act as an add-on to ChatGPT and will combine ChatGPT’s capabilities with Instacart’s own AI technology to let users shop from food and recipe-related conversations with ChatGPT and get ingredients delivered to their door. In response to questions like, “I have chicken and pasta. What’s a kid-friendly meal I can make, and what else do I need?” or “How can I make an easy carrot cake?”, ChatGPT can now create Instacart orders based on suggested meal responses, adding all of the necessary ingredients to their Instacart cart in just a few clicks. By leveraging Instacart’s rich catalog spanning more than 1.5 million products from over 1,100 retail banners, users can now lean on ChatGPT to take on their meal planning inspiration, with Instacart turning that inspiration into a reality.

The Instacart ChatGPT plugin works best in helping people figure out what they’d need to make a particular meal or recipe, and helps them account for ingredients they may already have at home or specific dietary restrictions, create an instant shopping list, and get ingredients delivered to their door so they can start cooking. In the future, we’ll be rolling out new capabilities, like the ability to help people shop recipes or ingredients that are on sale or in season.

How can I use the Instacart ChatGPT plugin?

The Instacart ChatGPT plugin is starting to roll out today, beginning with ChatGPT Plus subscribers and eventually to all ChatGPT users over the coming weeks. To see if you have access to the plugin, you can log in to the web-based ChatGPT tool. If you’re in the launch group, you’ll see the Instacart carrot logo next to an “Enabled plugins” label at the top of your ChatGPT chat window. Once you can see the plugin logo, try asking ChatGPT about open-ended meal questions (“What can I make for dinner?”); ingredient, time-based or dietary restriction-based meal ideas (“What’s an easy recipe for veggie stir-fry that I can make in less than 20 minutes?”); or inspiration for a specific type of food (“Give me a recipe for vegan lasagna.”).  From there, you’ll be able to see suggestions from ChatGPT and add all of the necessary ingredients to your Instacart cart, allowing you to create an Instacart order in a new browser window and get everything delivered to your door in as fast as an hour.

Safety and Integrity

OpenAI is dedicated to developing AI safely and responsibly, and they’re adopting best practices for deploying these new ChatGPT plugin experiences, including a review process for new ChatGPT plugins like Instacart’s. At Instacart, we know that large language model technology is still in its early stages, so our ChatGPT plugin is a custom, constrained tool that will be triggered only in response to relevant food-related ChatGPT questions, and people won’t be able to use it for non-recipe related tasks. We believe this can be an amazing tool that helps solve the eternal “What’s for dinner?” problem by providing meal inspiration that people can review and modify to meet their own needs. We’ll be collaborating with OpenAI to roll this out thoughtfully and make any modifications as needed along the way.

JJ Zhuang

JJ Zhuang

JJ Zhuang is Chief Architect at Instacart, where he drives key technology and architecture decisions across all Instacart product pillars and ensures engineering investments are aligned with the company’s long term business strategy. Prior to Instacart, Zhuang was a Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft and led Office365 app technology. He was also a co-founder and CTO of Acompli where he co-created the app that Microsoft acquired and adopted as the modern mobile Outlook. He also served in Chief Architect roles at VMWare and Yahoo! Zhuang graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University with a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering.

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