Amazon launches virtual shopping assistant Rufus

In need of shopping advice while browsing Amazon’s vast marketplace? Rufus, an “expert shopping assistant,” is here to help.

Powered by artificial intelligence, Rufus can answer general questions like “What should I consider when buying running shoes?” as well as product-specific queries such as “Is this jacket machine washable?” Amazon has announced.

Rufus will also help customers compare different products, shop by occasion or purpose, and find best recommendations in what Amazon described as a “conversational shopping experience.”

The new feature has launched to a small number of beta users in Amazon’s mobile app and will roll out to additional US customers in the coming weeks, the company said.

“Rufus generates answers using relevant information from across Amazon and the web to help customers make better, more informed shopping decisions,” Amazon said in a blog post.

It said it will be further improving on the experience based on customer feedback. “It’s still early days for generative AI, and the technology won’t always get it exactly right,” it added.

To use Rufus, customers will have to start typing or speaking their questions into the search bar in the app until a chat dialog box will pop up at the bottom of their screen.

Users can dismiss Rufus and return to traditional search at any time by swiping down to set the chat dialog box back to the bottom of their screen.

Amazon said it was “excited” about the potential of generative AI. The company already uses the technology extensively on its online shopping platform, from personalized recommendations to AI-generated review highlights.

Elsewhere in the company, AI powers conversational capabilities of Alexa, checkout-free Amazon Go stores, and drone deliveries, Amazon said, noting these were “just a few examples” of how it uses the technology.

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