How Instacart fixed its A.I. and keeps up with the coronavirus pandemic
Like many companies, online grocery delivery service Instacart has spent the past few months overhauling its machine-learning models because the coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed how customers behave.
Starting in mid-March, Instacart’s all-important technology for predicting whether certain products would be available at specific stores became increasingly inaccurate. The accuracy of a metric used to evaluate how many items are found at a store dropped to 61% from 93%, tipping off the Instacart engineers that they needed to re-train their machine learning model that predicts an item’s availability at a store. After all, customers could get annoyed being told one thing—the item that they wanted was available—when in fact it wasn’t, resulting in products never being delivered. ‘A shock to the system’ is how Instacart’s machine learning director Sharath Rao described the problem to Fortune.