Amazon launches AI-powered shopping assistant Rufus

Amazon has released a new shopping assistant that uses generative artificial intelligence that can help customers with questions about the retail giant’s vast catalog of products. 

Named Rufus, the AI bot can answer specific questions as well as those that are vaguely worded. The new tech can help customers learn what to look for in product categories; get help comparing product categories; shop for special occasions; get recommendations; and ask specific questions about products. 

Amazon President and CEO Andy Jassy said in a LinkedIn post on Thursday that Rufus can help guide shoppers with a variety of questions, such as:

  • “What is important to consider when buying headphones?”
  • “What’s the difference between trail and running road shoes?”
  • “What are the best Valentine’s Day gifts?”
  • “Is this pickleball racquet good for beginners?”

“Rufus is built on a large language model that’s trained on our expansive product catalog, customer reviews, community Q+As, and the broader web — and is seamlessly integrated with Amazon to make it easy to take action in the shopping experience …” Jassy wrote. 

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Jassy said the technology is out in beta form for a small group of U.S. customers. The assistant will roll out to U.S. customers in the coming weeks, he said. 

Customers using the beta version of the new shopping assistant can type their questions in the Amazon app or speak the questions out loud into the app search bar, the company said in a press release announcing Rufus. 

“Customers can expand the chat dialog box to see answers to their questions, tap on suggested questions, and ask follow-up questions in the chat dialog box. Customers can dismiss Rufus to return to their traditional search results at any time by swiping down to send the chat dialog box back to the bottom of their screen,” the company said. 

The AI model is trained on Amazon’s database, but the company acknowledges that users will have to use their best judgment because “the technology won’t always get it exactly right.”

Amazon said that it anticipates the responses will improve over time, as Rufus fine-tunes its responses to questions. 

The retail giant announced the launch of the new AI bot the same day it released its 2023 fourth quarter earnings report, which showed a net sales increase of 14% to $170 billion year over year. 

The results beat analyst expectations causing the company’s stock to eclipse 8% in after-hours trading.
 

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