Beckn Meets ChatGPT: An Early Look At How We Might Shop In The Future

Karan Kamble

May 22, 2024, 11:12 AM | Updated 11:12 AM IST

Screengrab from the BecknGPT demo.
Screengrab from the BecknGPT demo.
  • Beckn and ChatGPT integration offers a glimpse of future shopping, showcasing AI-driven, personalised experiences that could revolutionise retail.
  • E-commerce is the bread and butter of the digital era. We shop to our heart’s content online and have grown accustomed to a certain way of going about it, relying on multiple platforms for product or service discovery and going through typical steps to place an order on the platform of our choice.

    However, digital innovation born out of India is soon set to transform our experience of online shopping.

    The Foundation for Interoperability in Digital Economy (FIDE), formerly Beckn Foundation, recently unveiled the “Beckn action bot” — where the powers of OpenAI and the Beckn protocol combine to enable economic transactions across the Beckn open network.

    The result is “BecknGPT”, which helps a user shop for things online using the familiar GPT interface.

    “We are talking about AI agents supercharged with Beckn who can act on your behalf. And this isn’t science fiction, it is happening now,” the Beckn Protocol posted on LinkedIn.

    Wait, What’s Beckn Protocol?

    The “Beckn protocol”, or simply “Beckn”, is an open protocol for enabling decentralised, peer-to-peer commerce and service interactions.

    Beckn is a virtual repository of well-defined specifications that’s open for anyone to see, modify, and use for themselves for the purpose of building more digital public goods. The overarching vision is to maintain a free and open digital economy.

    Its specifications enable Beckn to act as a transaction protocol that allows discovery, ordering, fulfilment, and payment between buyers and sellers in the digital marketplace.

    The Beckn protocol is similar to the email protocol Simple Mail Transfer Protocol or SMTP, which lets email senders and recipients use their preferred email systems or providers without any intermediary controlling the communication. So, you are able to send an email from Gmail to Yahoo Mail or Hotmail without being bound by a particular specific email provider.

    This is different from, say, WhatsApp messaging, where chats can only occur on the WhatsApp platform, and not from WhatsApp to iMessage. (Read more about the Beckn protocol on Swarajya.)

    AI Bot For Shopping

    With the help of a series of simple text input, a user can instruct BecknGPT to not just suggest options within a product category, but also carry out the shopping for them.

    The artificial intelligence (AI) agent, as this kind of a thing is generally called, can search for an item, place an order, track the order, and even return an order, if needed.

    Mayur Virendra, Head of Technology Innovations and New Initiatives at FIDE, ran a demonstration (demo) of BecknGPT at Beckn Bengaluru Meetup 1.0. (He’s posted a blog on how he created this shopping assistant.)

    Virendra bought a popular book in the personal finance genre using the bot as part of the demo. He started with a clean slate, not knowing which book to buy.

    “I’m looking for books on personal finance,” he typed in.

    Surfing a Beckn-enabled open network, BecknGPT threw up three options — The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T Kiyosaki, and Zero EMI by Ra Ma. Palaniappan.

    The AI agent stated the price and description, and displayed the cover image for each of the books.

    “Would you like to select any of these books, or is there something else you’re looking for?” it asked, to which Virendra responded: “yes, lets get the first one.”

    The bot sought the user’s full name, email address, phone number, and delivery address to initiate the order. Upon receiving the information, BecknGPT initiated the order, specified the order details, and asked for a confirmation.

    Virendra typed in, “Yes please confirm!” and, voilà, the order was placed.

    Thus, he made an end-to-end e-commerce transaction using ChatGPT, not requiring the use of an external application. The process was a breeze!

    “So, the interesting thing about this GPT is that it is not connected to any one network. It is not just platform-agnostic, but it is also network-agnostic,” Virendra said.

    “When I said that I want some books, it went on to a root registry and found what was the most suitable network for finding books and it found a retail network, which we had pre-configured, and it did that transaction through that network,” he explained.

    Subsequently switching from a retail network to an energy network (interoperability), BecknGPT was next able to locate a charging station for electric vehicles in response to Virendra’s request: “Hey, can you find some EV charging stations near me?”

    Again, it shared the relevant details — name, description, location, rating, and services offered at the charging station, asking further: “Would you like more details on this station, or are you looking for additional options?” How cool is that!

    “AI agents transacting on a @BecknProtocol enabled network! You are seeing the trailer of the future!” Dr Pramod Varma, FIDE co-founder, as well as the architect of Aadhaar, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), and DigiLocker, said in an X post.

    “Combinatorial innovation at work!” Nandan Nilekani, FIDE and Infosys co-founder, posted.

    Beckn reimagines e-commerce. It democratises digital commerce by making it open and inclusive to anyone at all, sizing down the role and influence of the handful of e-commerce giants that dominate and gate-keep the highly active e-tail space.

    Also Read: What Is Beckn Protocol, The Technology Poised To Redefine E-Commerce

    Karan Kamble writes on science and technology. He occasionally wears the hat of a video anchor for Swarajya's online video programmes.

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