Google is using Lens and AI to supercharge online shopping

People are shopping across Google's products a billion times a day, the company says at Google I/O.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
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Sean Keane
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Google wants to remove the friction from shopping on its services.


We've all been there -- you see an actor in a movie wearing a gorgeous dress, a sports star on the court in trainers you absolutely need or a wallpaper pattern that'd look perfect in your home office. Finding out the brand and where you can buy it is a little too much effort though, so you quickly forget about it.

Google wants you to have those products though. The search giant is working to make it happen through Google Lens and AI, Bill Ready, its president of commerce and payments, said during the Google I/O developer conference on Tuesday.

If you take a photo or screenshot of a product, Google Photos will suggest that you search for it using Lens -- essentially letting you identify and shop for it right from the photo app. It's about expanding its service from enabling you to search the world around you to letting you shop in it, wherever you might be.

Google Lens can help you mirror someone's style by easily searching products in photos.


People are using Google to shop more than a billion times each day, the company says, and Ready also revealed some details on the AI-enhanced Shopping Graph powering that experience. It uses search data to enhance your choice and link you with brands and retailers that reflect your values, in case you want to support Black-owned or small businesses, for instance.

Google is also expanding its partnership with Shopify, making it easier for the e-commerce platform's 1.7 million merchants to get their products into Google searches.

Speaking to CNET a few days before Google IO, Ready said he thinks the pandemic resulted in a fundamental shift in consumer behavior. It's unlikely shoppers are going to go back to their pre-pandemic shopping habits, so Google wants to make finding products online as easy as possible.

Asked about how Google views e-commerce behemoth Amazon's place in this ecosystem, Ready said the search company wants to help people make the most informed buying decisions and that Google considers itself a partner to all retailers, including Amazon.

Watch this: Google Search gets AR, and Google Lens wants to be your assistant