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AI-aided browsers could change how customers search for cars online

New browsers that make use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology could permanently change how car buyers search for vehicles online, says iVendi.

The online car retail software specialist said AI was being incorporated into Microsoft’s Edge browser and the Bing search engine, as well as the Opera browser, while there are reports that Google will soon make increased use of AI using its Bart chatbot.

James Tew, chief executive officer at iVendi, said: “Many people are now familiar with ChatGPT, which was launched late last year and has created a definite stir in terms of showing what AI is now capable of.

“Essentially, it delivers long form, natural speech responses to all kinds of questions rather than just listing web site links in the same way as a traditional browser. It has definite potential to bring new approaches to online search.

“Microsoft has licensed ChatGPT technology to be incorporated into its search and browser products and, while no-one is talking seriously about Google’s grasp on this part of the market being threatened, AI does represent the first potential step change in online search technology for many years, perhaps decades.

“It’s still very much unclear whether AI-enhanced search will provide an experience that is good enough to persuade customers to change their preferred search engine, but there also the chance that if it does prove effective, it could change how users approach retail, including cars.”

Tew added that when asking ChatGPT a specific question about looking for a car – for example, a particular model of a particular age in a particular area – it will generate generic responses about shopping for a used vehicle.

He said the format can answer detailed queries in a format ‘attractive to customers’.

Earlier this year a study conducted by Yell found that AI could also save automotive businesses, including dealers, more than £40,000 per year.

Tew added: “It’ll be very much a question of where the people creating the AI want to take the technology in the future.”

The biggest change resulting from AI would be if search allowed a browser to be used to answer questions such as, “Find me a 2018 Ford Fiesta within 15 miles of Cardiff” or “Find me cars that can carry seven people with finance at less than £300 a month”, Tew said.

He added: “If AI-enhanced search at some point produces meaningful responses to these questions, it will allow traditional car search portals to be potentially sidestepped, taking the consumer straight from the search to the dealer. This would obviously change the journey currently undertaken by many customers.”

Last year (2022), Carwow partnered with AI platform Re:infer to help identify potential online car buyers’ readiness to buy.

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