AI-Powered Shopping: Unveiling Ibotta’s ChatGPT Plugin Experience

Darshan Bhatta
Building Ibotta
Published in
4 min readAug 24, 2023


By: Darshan Bhatta & Sriram Hariharan


When ChatGPT made its debut, it wasn’t just a game-changer, it was a “drop-the-mic” moment in the tech world. Suddenly, understanding natural language wasn’t just possible, it was accessible to everyone. But there was a catch: integrating it into projects could burn a hole in your pocket, given the costs per token. So when OpenAI announced plugins as an alternative, the light-bulbs instantly started popping off over our heads. At Ibotta, we’ve always had a soft spot for trying out the latest and greatest in tech, so, it was a no-brainer for us to dive deep into the ChatGPT pool and see what we could come up with. Enter the Ibotta Shopping plugin.

The plugin is our take on experimenting with harnessing the power of ChatGPT for e-commerce. The Ibotta Shopping plugin is all about understanding what users are hunting for and serving up the best product matches. In short, it’s our first foray into using LLM tech to supercharge our mission to make online shopping smarter and more intuitive.

But, as any engineer will tell you, innovation isn’t always a walk in the park. Crafting this plugin was a journey — with its fair share of bumps, confusions, and straight up woah moments. In this blog post, we’ll pull back the curtain on the making of the Ibotta Shopping plugin, from the challenges we faced to the breakthroughs and learnings that made it all worth it.

What is a ChatGPT Plugin?

ChatGPT plugins are add-ons that Plus users can pair with GPT4 to extend its capabilities. They serve as a bridge, connecting the advanced language understanding of ChatGPT with various applications, thereby enhancing their functionality. The key innovation here is that we can actually give “tools” to the model to use to solve certain problems. For example, you can make a plugin that gives the model the ability to do math. The next time someone asks chatGPT to solve their math homework, it will read the problem, reach for that “math” plugin to do arithmetic, and then format what the plugin responds with in its normal LLM-framework. Many Developers have developed a variety of plugins, ranging from chess-related ones to those facilitating diagram drawing and recipe searches. We decided we wanted to add our own unique spin to the platform.

Ibotta Plugin in the ChatGPT Plugin Store

So, what about this Ibotta Shopping Plugin?

When we started brainstorming ideas on how to integrate our tech and data with the plugins, we took a step back and thought about what would really vibe with our mission to “Make every purchase rewarding”. From our experience working on the Ibotta browser extension, we knew it was helpful to think of the online shopping journey in terms of a few questions: What to buy, Where to buy, and When to buy. From our perspective, we wanted chatGPT to be like having a personal shopping assistant, one that knows your preferences and guides you through the many options of online shopping. We wanted it to strike a delicate balance between being attuned to your needs, and yet subtle enough to let your creativity shine.

How does it work?

ChatGPT plugins are designed to enhance the functionality of the ChatGPT model by integrating it with various applications and services. They operate by utilizing the model’s advanced natural language processing capabilities to understand user inputs and generate appropriate responses.

For instance, when a user inputs a query about a product or a shopping need into the Ibotta Shopping plugin, the plugin sends this query to the ChatGPT model. The model processes the query, understands the user’s needs and preferences, and generates a response. The plugin then uses this response to search for relevant products across various online stores, providing a list of product suggestions that match the user’s query.

Here are some standout use cases that truly encapsulate the potential of our plugin:

Gift Recommendations: Ever been stumped about what gift to buy?
Grocery Shopping Simplified: Planning meals for the week?

These are just a few glimpses of how the Ibotta shopping plugin enhances the shopping experience. Stay tuned for the next blog, where we go deep into the technical explorations of building a plugin on ChatGPT.


As we reflect on our journey with the Ibotta shopping plugin and ChatGPT, it’s clear that the intersection of technology and user needs can lead to transformative experiences. But what truly brings a smile to our faces are the real-world applications of our plugin, and how we can further our mission to make every purchase rewarding.

Interested in working at Ibotta? Check out to browse openings and learn more about us!