UPDATED 17:56 EDT / FEBRUARY 01 2024


Amazon debuts AI-powered Rufus shopping assistant

Amazon.com Inc. today introduced a new chatbot, dubbed Rufus, that will help online shoppers browse products and decide which ones to buy.

The chatbot is the latest in a series of artificial intelligence features that the company has introduced for its e-commerce marketplace. Previously, Amazon added an AI tool that can automatically summarize the user-submitted reviews below product listings. It has also introduced generative AI features for the third-party sellers that offer their merchandise on its platform.

On launch, Rufus is available to a “small subset” of the consumers who use Amazon’s mobile app. It activates when a user enters a query into the built-in search bar. The chatbot’s answers appear in a panel at the bottom of the app interface that can be toggled by swiping down.

Rufus is designed to answer shopper questions about products listed on Amazon. The AI that underpins the chatbot was trained on the e-commerce marketplace’s product catalog, as well as shopper reviews and content from its Customer Questions & Answers section. The company says it also used “information from across the web” to refine Rufus’ capabilities.

Answering questions about specific Amazon listings is not the only task that Rufus can manage. According to Amazon, the chat is also capable of generating product comparisons. A user could, for example, ask Rufus to explain the difference between a Wi-Fi 6 router and a competing device that supports the latest Wi-Fi 7 standard.

The chatbot doubles as a recommendation engine. Users may describe a task they wish to accomplish, such as building an indoor garden, and have Rufus list the items that are necessary for the project. Shoppers seeking more information can ask the chatbot to highlight the factors that they should consider before purchasing a particular product.

“We’re launching Rufus in beta and starting to roll it out to customers in waves, beginning with a small subset of customers in the U.S. using our mobile app, and progressively rolling it out to the rest of our U.S. customers in the coming weeks,” Amazon executives Rajiv Mehta and Trishul Chilimbi detailed in a blog post today.

Rufus is rolling out a few months after Amazon introduced another generative AI feature for its e-commerce marketplace. The latter capability, which debuted in August, generates a one-paragraph summary of the reviews that shoppers write about a product. It also displays a list of keywords designed to highlight the features of a product that consumers find most notable.

More recently, Amazon debuted an AI tool that can help third-party merchants more quickly write product listings. The tool can generate a title and a description for listings based on a brief product overview provided by the seller. Merchants can also use it to enhance their existing marketing copy.

Image: Amazon

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