Amazon unveiled its latest innovation on Thursday with the launch of Rufus, a state-of-the-art generative AI shopping assistant. Trained on a vast array of data, including Amazon’s product catalog, customer reviews, community Q&As, and information sourced from the web, Rufus is currently available to a limited set of Amazon customers, with plans for expansion in the coming weeks.
Positioned as a comprehensive solution for shoppers, Rufus is envisioned as a one-stop shop for various shopping needs. The chatbot can adeptly answer queries such as “What factors should be considered when purchasing running shoes?” and provide detailed comparisons like “Differences between trail and road running shoes.” Rufus is equipped to handle follow-up questions, addressing concerns about product durability and more.
Amazon sees Rufus as an indispensable advisor, capable of providing general advice on product categories, such as headphone shopping tips. Additionally, Rufus offers contextual advice based on specific activities (e.g., hiking) or events (holidays or celebrations). Users can seek comparisons between product categories, like “Difference between lip gloss and lip oil?” or “Compare drip to pour-over coffee makers.” Rufus also excels in suggesting gifts for individuals with specific tastes and offering tailored shopping recommendations for holidays.
The AI shopping assistant extends its capabilities to address more specific queries related to a particular product page. Examples provided by Amazon include questions like “Is this pickleball paddle suitable for beginners?” or “Is this jacket machine-washable?” As Rufus is gradually rolled out to a wider audience, Amazon aims to enhance the shopping experience by leveraging the power of generative AI technology.
Amazon had previously shared its commitment to generative AI, with various divisions working on incorporating the technology into different aspects of the company. Rufus joins the ranks of AI-powered features, following the launch of AI-powered review summaries and the encouragement for sellers to adopt AI for product listings and image backgrounds. Rival Walmart has also hinted at a similar feature for its shoppers at CES 2024.
Acknowledging that generative AI is still in its early stages, Amazon executive Rajiv Mehta highlighted the company’s commitment to continuous improvement. Customers are encouraged to provide feedback by rating answers with a thumbs up or thumbs down and offering freeform feedback.
Rufus is currently in beta, available to a small subset of customers, and can be accessed through the updated Amazon mobile app. The assistant is expected to roll out to U.S. customers in the coming weeks, and users in the beta phase can summon Rufus by typing or speaking their questions into the search bar, with a Rufus chat box appearing at the bottom of the screen.