Product Descriptions and Generative AI: Are We There Yet?

July 19, 2023

Product Descriptions and Generative AI: Are We There Yet?

Since generative artificial intelligence (AI) jumped into mainstream use, it’s become a hot topic that’s affected every industry, including online retail. As this technology evolves, e-commerce marketers are learning how generative AI can transform how they approach product page content, specifically product descriptions. 

This article from 1WorldSync explores the use of generative AI in e-commerce and product descriptions. Are we there yet? Let’s find out. 


Understanding Generative AI: What It Is, What It Isn’t


Before determining AI’s role in product page copy, we need to understand the nuances of this technology, including the differences and connections between AI, machine learning and natural language processing. Understanding generative AI will help us tackle the more significant questions regarding its role in e-commerce marketing.  

AI is the practice of machines mimicking human intelligence to perform tasks. Machine learning is a type of AI in which technology models analyze data patterns to “learn” without human interaction. It’s primarily focused on accuracy and pattern recognition. 

A further subset of machine learning is natural language processing (NLP). Generative AI –– the kind that creates product page copy –– is a type of NLP. NLP is concerned with computer and human language interactions.

NLP is the generative AI technology that allows chatbots like Chat GPT to seemingly create something from nothing, delivering organized content on any topic –– in some cases within seconds. 

These technologies’ language processing capabilities can potentially streamline content creation for every industry, including e-commerce organizations. 

Now that we understand generative AI, let’s explore how NLP systems put words on the page.  


How Generative AI and NLP Works 


Perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of generative AI language programs is how they create. Chat GPT and other similar programs aren’t autonomous thinkers. They cannot form independent, coherent or consistently accurate content. 

For example, when prompted to create copy, generative AI programs do not create sentences based on knowledge. Instead, the programs evaluate how language is typically used to describe something, like a product on an e-commerce page. Machine learning finds speech patterns to create the text. The program then “writes” copy based on language patterns and existing descriptions of that product. 

As marketers consider AI programs to help craft product detail pages, specifically product descriptions, they must understand how AI creates content. That is, a program does not think in the same way a human writer thinks. AI copy creation is pattern based. 

And while AI can set foundations for product descriptions and copy, it’s not a suitable replacement for a living, breathing copywriter. We’ll discuss this in more detail below. 


How E-Commerce Businesses are Putting Generative AI to Use


Generative AI and NLP tools entered our homes and businesses in 2022, and the innovation and implementation haven’t stopped since. E-commerce businesses use generative AI to streamline their operations at almost every level, especially in copy creation and product descriptions. Read on as we explore how AI impacts product descriptions on an ever-expanding digital shelf. 


1. Product Analysis and Personalized Descriptions


Personalization is essential to attract, engage, sell to and retain customers. And thanks to generative AI algorithms, e-commerce brands can analyze product data and generate compelling product descriptions that enhance the customer’s shopping experience. 

These tools can examine a product’s features, specifications, and unique benefits to create a description that increases visibility and discoverability and promotes engagement. 

One generative AI platform, Phrasee, analyzes an item and generates a description. It can create email subject lines and push notifications designed explicitly for the target audience. 

Utilizing this technology allows e-commerce businesses to create and publish product descriptions with the shortest turnaround times the market has ever seen. 


2. SEO Optimization


In addition to creating unique product descriptions, AI tools can boost your SEO efforts. A significant component of any high-traffic, high-conversion PDP is its SEO optimization. AI tools can create product descriptions fueled by SEO strategy to help you see the engagement numbers you’re striving for. 

Incorporating target keywords into your automated content creation ensures your AI tools are delivering engaging product descriptions that support your SEO strategy. 


3. Increasing Productivity 


McKinsey aptly notes that “generative AI is poised to unleash the next wave of productivity.” In a comparison of 63 use cases, the firm found that AI implementation could add the equivalent of $2.6 to $4.4 trillion annually to those cases. 

Automation in content creation is the most significant benefit of generative AI and NLP within e-commerce marketing.  It increases efficiency and productivity, causing ripple effects across organizations. AI tools can create content that’s optimized for SEO, freeing up marketing teams, content writers and SEO specialists to manage other, more pressing tasks.

When workers can automate and streamline tasks that once consumed hours of their time, they can refocus their energy on other duties that require greater oversight and drive their organizations toward greater success on the digital shelf. 


AI and Intellectual Property Concerns 

Despite the widespread adoption of generative AI tools in e-commerce, the technology isn’t foolproof. Perhaps the most significant risks with AI implementation in e-commerce marketing are content accuracy and intellectual property concerns. As noted earlier, AI generates content based on data patterns; nothing is an original thought. 

Because of that, NLP tools risk copyright infringement with every piece they create. And it doesn’t go unnoticed. Harvard Business Review outlines multiple claims filed against AI companies for stealing content. 

Fixing these issues falls on AI companies and developers to source data strategically. Content creators within e-commerce companies must choose their AI generation tools carefully. 

The more AI is used to create product descriptions in e-commerce, the greater the risk of accidental property theft. 


Generative AI: Where Do We Go from Here? 


Generative AI and NLP models can create thousands of product descriptions in a fraction of the time it would take a human copywriter. Reduced time to publishing means e-commerce businesses can get their product on the digital shelf faster and start selling sooner. And because NLP tools don’t require the same overhead costs (working space, salary, benefits, etc.) as human workers, organizations can save hundreds of thousands of dollars or more by implementing this technology. 

However, e-commerce marketers must understand that no language processing tool is perfect. In an ideal scenario, generative AI could efficiently and effectively handle all product description creation tasks. But as we’ve explored above, the technology has not arrived at that point. 

So, concerning generative AI and product descriptions: are we there yet? The answer depends on your definition of “there.” 


Takeaways and Moving Forward with AI in E-Commerce 


AI will continue shaping how e-commerce businesses and their marketing teams operate. NLP programs have the potential to completely automate product description creation and optimization. As technology continues to evolve and adapt to deliver a more accurate and human-focused product, marketers can rely even more heavily on AI in day-to-day tasks. 

As we adopt AI in our content creation, human oversight is essential. A human copywriting and marketing team can ensure intellectual integrity and accuracy in your content. Your brand and product reputation rely on the quality of your product content. Building your product descriptions with AI under human supervision allows you to reduce spending, optimize copy creation and ultimately deliver a final product that helps you sell.