Allume Group

The Death of a Keyboard, and the Re-Shuffling of $500B in US eCommerce Sales

Search is really important. It’s so much faster than browsing. In fact, it’s so much better that over 80% of Amazon’s sales are driven by customers going to the search bar, entering some keywords and buying one of the top five products of the thousands that the search query returns. 

Keyword Search Sucks

As great as it is, keyword search sucks. We just don’t know it yet. We don’t know it yet in the same way we didn’t realize that stopping at a gas station to buy a paper map sucked compared to using GPS navigation. Or having to wait in the rain at a designated meeting spot after a concert sucked compared to just texting your friends to ask where they are.

Objectively, it’s an odd process.  Customers must first think of words they believe a computer will understand.  The customer is then rewarded with an overwhelming amount of somewhat relevant products.  When the customer searches again, the search engine forgets they’ve ever talked with this customer before and returns a pile of new, unrelated products.  It’s like walking into a grocery store and yelling, “Peanut Butter,” and an army of clerks bring you all the cereal, dog treats and sandwich spread that contain the words “Peanut” and/or “Butter.”  You then yell, “Organic,” and get a bunch of bananas, flour, and healthy snacks.  

This is not how we’ve evolved to think or communicate, but we accept it because the alternative – browsing through thousands of products – is much worse.

Then the World Changed

Search is about to get a lot better.  Generative search, natural language processing and AI will replace keyword matching and the results are incredible.  Unfortunately, that’s terrible news for everyone who has built a successful business based on keyword search.

To understand the difference, consider the following product search in this new world:


“please recommend a peanut butter that is healthy and comes in a large container because I make a lot of sandwiches”


“When choosing a peanut butter, look for one that is made with only a few ingredients, such as peanuts and salt, and avoid those with added sugars or oils. Here are some recommendations for healthy peanut butter options that come in large containers:

Crazy Richard’s 100% Peanuts All-Natural Peanut Butter: This peanut butter is made with only one ingredient: roasted peanuts. It’s also gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO, and comes in a 48-ounce jar.

Kirkland Signature Organic Creamy Peanut Butter: This peanut butter is made with only organic roasted peanuts and salt. It comes in a 28-ounce jar and is certified USDA organic.

Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter: This peanut butter is made with only two ingredients: peanuts and salt. It’s also non-GMO and gluten-free and comes in a 26.5-ounce jar.

Remember that peanut butter is high in calories and fat, so be mindful of your portion sizes to maintain a healthy diet.”

Great, now I’d like to know what I should spend on these:

“How much do those items cost on Amazon?”


“The prices of these items on Amazon may vary depending on the time of purchase and location, but here are the current prices (as of my knowledge cutoff date of September 2021) for each peanut butter option:

Crazy Richard’s 100% Peanuts All-Natural Peanut Butter (48 oz): $13.97

Kirkland Signature Organic Creamy Peanut Butter (28 oz): $9.86

Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter (26.5 oz): $5.64

Jif Natural Creamy Peanut Butter (40 oz): $9.99

Skippy Natural Creamy Peanut Butter (40 oz): $7.67

Trader Joe’s Creamy Salted Peanut Butter (16 oz): $7.95

Keep in mind that prices may vary, and there may be other retailers that offer these products at different prices.”

I’m easily influenced by famous people, so naturally: 

“Are there any endorsed by celebrities?”


“There may be peanut butter brands that are endorsed by celebrities, but it’s important to remember that celebrity endorsements do not necessarily mean that a product is healthier or of better quality. It’s always a good idea to focus on the ingredients and nutritional value of a product rather than relying solely on celebrity endorsements.

That being said, here are a few peanut butter brands that have been endorsed by celebrities:

Justin’s Nut Butter: Justin’s is a natural nut butter company that has been endorsed by several celebrities, including Jennifer Aniston and Oprah Winfrey. Their products are made with high-quality ingredients and come in a variety of flavors.

PBfit: PBfit is a brand of powdered peanut butter that has been endorsed by actress and singer Vanessa Hudgens. Their powdered peanut butter is made with only roasted peanuts, salt, and sugar, and has 87% less fat than traditional peanut butter.

NuttZo: NuttZo is a nut butter brand that has been endorsed by Olympic athlete Lindsey Vonn. Their products are made with a blend of organic nuts and seeds and come in several different varieties.

Again, it’s important to do your own research and read ingredient labels to make an informed decision about the peanut butter you choose to purchase.”

So, there you have it.  In addition to being endorsed by Vanessa Hudgens, PBFit was an early client at my last company so it’s the obvious winner.  If you conduct the same search, you will get different results.  The system is constantly learning and improving in ways no human can truly understand.

It makes the old keyword way seem so…old.

Who Will Mourn the Keyword?

There is no world in which keyword search wins.  It’s like bringing keywords to a natural language processing fight.  AI wins, Customers win, big time.  Shoppers will not mourn keywords.

Those who will mourn keywords are the owners of the products that have spent millions or billions of dollars on advertising, content, strategy, and execution to have the coveted top placement on the keywords that drive their business.  The ad platforms that generate billions of dollars selling keyword targeted ads will also mourn.  How will advertisers target consumers?  Other than just trusting AI, how do advertisers make decisions about how and where to invest?  How will brands know what content to develop? Companies that built entire businesses on keyword matching processes will mourn them.

AI in the Driver’s Seat Means Different Products Win

As generative search based on natural language processing rolls out $500B+ of US retail sales will be completely reshuffled.  Ad tools and tactics will shift seemingly overnight.

Some products will just accidentally win.  They were always more relevant, but no one knew.  With AI in the driver seat, these products will steal share from others that had carefully, and expensively, mastered the now useless keywords.  Brands will be forced to learn to understand how the retailers’ different flavors of generative search work.  They will need to know a lot more about their customers.  Keyword stuffing into titles or bullets will not work anymore.  Brands will have to be strategic and highly engaged in actively managing the data that trains the AI models.  

Saying Goodbye is Hard

Having been there for the birth of the keyword and now standing here so close to the end, I’d like to say a few words:

Keyword, you were a good friend.  You led us out of the darkness of browse.  You exposed all the knowledge of the world so I could settle minor disputes with my friends in real time.  You changed our lives in unimaginable ways.  Born just thirty years ago in 1993 on Aliweb, you were so young.  But change is life’s only constant, and I need more, better ways to find the right peanut butter for me.  So, it’s time to say goodbye.  

But you never know!  Just like the acid-washed jeans I wore to your birthday party, maybe, one day, you’ll come back into style.

Written by Justin Leigh

Original Article Found Here