How To Find The Perfect Holiday Gifts With Google's New AI Tool

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The holiday season, as joyful as it's often presented as being, can be a very stressful time too. It can be costly, certain family members can cause tremendous tension, and, of course, some just prove incredibly difficult to buy for.

Seeing that painstakingly chosen gift left unopened months later can certainly be devastating. The good news is that generative AI is here to help ease this difficulty. Soon, even the most difficult person on your list will receive a gift they'll just love. Your chances should be much improved, at any rate.

AI has been working its way into our shopping habits for some time now. Retail juggernaut Amazon has opened up the capacity for product descriptions and wider listings to be generated by AI. Now, Google has further developed its own AI tool, and it's set to revolutionize how we find and select the gifts we buy. Here's a look at this new functionality, how it works, and exactly how users can make it work for them. Just note that you'll need to be a U.S. user of Search Labs to do so.

Gift shopping, the SGE way

Google search page on MacBook Pro

Google's Search Generative Experience, or SGE, aims to make "Googling it" much more informative and convenient than before. One facet of this is advertising. As Google Ads VP & GM Vidhya Srinivasan stated in a May 2023 Google Blog post before the beginning of the SGE's rollout, one of the system's objectives is to "continue to shape the advertiser and user experience as we create and surface the most relevant ads that meet peoples' needs at any given moment." Of course, ads specifically tailored to search queries submitted are nothing new (Google features like Topics have helped with ads' visibility), but this new AI tool is somewhat more sophisticated than that.

With the sheer extent of results that a general Google search can provide, the company now seems to focus on quality over quantity — the right results rather than far too many general ones to wade through. For example, a simple search for "butterfly gift ideas" returns about 123,000,000 results. It's very helpful for narrowing things down further to ensure you can please that butterfly enthusiast in your life.

The core concept of the SGE is to provide subcategories based upon such a search that the user can then peruse, thereby allowing them to more efficiently browse the sort of item their giftee will appreciate most this holiday season. Here's how to use it for yourself.

How does the SGE work?

Person at desk searching Google UK

As of November 16, 2023, Search Labs users in the United States who have enabled the SGE will find that it's right there, just a Google search away. Here's what to do:

  1. Access Google via the mobile app or Chrome.

  2. Consider a specific person (or group of people) still on your To Buy For list for the holidays.

  3. Craft a Google search relating to what you know of their tastes, such as "gifts for a child who loves video games."

Your search will offer not just the usual long, jumbled list of assorted video game-related items but something more organized, too: Subcategories of specific types of gifts within that sphere, which can then be opened up and perused. The concept is similar to one gigantic online storefront, dividing its wares into socks, pants, sneakers, and other categories.

On the subject of clothing, though, there's another new feature the SGE has been updated to include, and it may be particularly invaluable for those wary of making online clothing purchases.

You can also (almost) try before you buy online with the SGE

Online shopping at store window concept

Granted, the freedom of grocery shopping from the bathroom is one of the great boons of the modern age, but there are certain things we want to be able to check out in person before committing to a purchase. Often, clothing qualifies because it can be vital to get a feel for a fit. Google's SGE may not be capable of providing that, but another new feature in its repertoire comes rather close.

In June 2023, Google added the capacity for users to "try on" clothing in the "women's tops" category. This function has now been extended to "men's tops" as well. With clothes being popular holiday gifts, here's how to do just that (this feature is Google app/mobile exclusive and U.S.-only at the time of writing):

  1. Begin a simple Google search for "men's tops" or "women's tops," specifying further details if required.

  2. From among the results, click Try-On for an applicable item.

  3. Use the Select Model slider beneath the generated image to see how the chosen top would look on a person of various heights, body types, and skin tones.

How to find the perfect item of clothing

Concept of virtual jacket shopping

December 2023 will also mark the addition of another SGE feature for Google mobile in the country: generating images of items of clothing using the Shopping Graph and leading the user from them to existing items available for purchase.

Here's how this is slated to work:

  1. Search Google for an item of clothing. A particular type of pair of pants, for instance.

  2. Beneath the familiar sponsored results, the Shop With Google AI box will appear. Click Generate Images within it.

  3. Images of four pairs of pants will appear, with the search box beneath. If one of the generated images is what you had in mind, you'll find store pages that sell similar pairs listed just beneath. If not, edit the text in the dialog box above the Shop Similar-Looking Products selection, then click Generate More.

In a The Keyword post, Julie Black, Google Director of Product, Consumer Shopping, notes that "SGE is designed as a jumping-off point to explore the web." As its features are further expanded and developed, it will hopefully become an increasingly convenient way to accomplish things online.

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