Amazon on Thursday unveiled Rufus, a new shopping assistant powered by generative artificial intelligence (AI) that can answer customers’ questions and make recommendations based on their preferences and needs.
“This morning we launched Rufus, an expert shopping assistant trained on our product and customer data that represents a significant customer experience improvement for discovery,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said during the company’s earnings call Thursday.
“Rufus lets customers ask shopping journey questions like, ‘What is the best golf ball to use for better spin control?’ or ‘Which are the best cold weather rain jackets?’ and get thoughtful explanations for what matters and recommendations on products,” Jassy said.
“You can carry out a conversation with Rufus on other related or unrelated questions, and it retains context coherently,” he explained. “You can sift through our rich product pages by asking Rufus questions on any product features, and it’ll return answers quickly.”
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Rufus launched Thursday in beta to a small subset of U.S. users in Amazon’s mobile app. Amazon plans to progressively roll out Rufus to the rest of U.S. customers in the coming weeks.
For customers using the Amazon Shopping app who are part of the beta or gain access to Rufus in the weeks ahead, they can use Rufus by typing or speaking their questions into the search bar and a Rufus chat dialog box will appear at the bottom of the screen.
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They can then expand the chat to see answers to their questions, choose suggested questions and ask follow-ups in the dialog box. Once customers are ready to dismiss Rufus and get back to their regular search results, they can simply swipe down to send the chat box back to the bottom of their screen.
“We’re at the start of what Rufus will do, with further personalization and expansion coming, but we’re excited about how it’ll make discovery easier on Amazon,” Jassy added. “It lets customers discover items in a very different way than they have been able to on e-commerce websites.”
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Rajiv Mehta, Amazon VP of search and conversational shopping, and Trishul Chilimbi, VP and distinguished scientist in Amazon stores foundational AI division, explained in a post on the company’s website that Rufus was trained on Amazon’s product catalog along with customer reviews, community Q&As and information from across the web.
That training enables Rufus to answer questions on a variety of shopping needs and products, provide comparisons and make recommendations based on the context of the conversation, they wrote.
“From broad research at the start of a shopping journey such as ‘what to consider when buying running shoes?’ to comparisons such as ‘what are the differences between trail and road running shoes?’ to more specific questions such as ‘are these durable?’, Rufus meaningfully improves how easy it is for customers to find and discover the best products to meet their needs, integrated seamlessly into the same Amazon shopping experience they use regularly,” Mehta and Chilimbi wrote.
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