Amazon Introduces Generative AI Shopping Assistant Rufus
Amazon has unveiled Rufus, a generative AI-powered shopping assistant. Rufus is designed to provide a comprehensive shopping assistance by utilizing Amazon’s extensive product catalog and information gathered from across the web, expanding on the tests Amazon had quietly begun last month.
The beta launch of Rufus marks a significant step in Amazon’s generative AI integration. Rufus is available to a select group of customers through Amazon’s mobile app, with plans to expand its availability to more U.S. customers in the coming weeks. Rufus will encourage shoppers to ask questions about a specific item using the product listing, reviews, and other relevant sources to generate an answer.
Rufus continues Amazon’s generative AI commerce experiments of the last several months. Amazon started publishing summaries of product reviews written by generative AI last year. It also created a generative AI platform to help third-party sellers write better product listings and a tool for synthetically generating images that marketers can use in advertising.
Rufus can handle a variety of queries, from broad product research to specific product comparisons and recommendations. The AI is integrated into the familiar Amazon shopping platform. and can handle product research and comparison, suggest what to buy for specific purposes or events, and answer questions about individual products. Amazon stated Rufus is trained to be a generative AI expert on its catalog and continuously improved through user feedback. The company views the tool as part of its long-running mission to utilize AI for better customer experiences.
Rufus is a generative AI-powered expert shopping assistant trained on Amazon’s extensive product catalog, customer reviews, community Q&As, and information from across the web to answer customer questions on a variety of shopping needs and products, provide comparisons, and make recommendations based on conversational context,” Amazon vice president of search and conversational shopping Rajiv Mehta and Amazon vice president and distinguished scientist of stores foundational AI Trishul Chilimbi explained in a blog post. “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.”
The new feature is built into Amazon’s mobile app and processes product details and customer reviews through a large language model (LLM); the assistant can provide specific answers to a variety of questions, such as product suitability for certain activities, material quality, and size recommendations. It will even tell a joke or write software code with a connection to the product.
Of course, like all LLM-fueled services, there’s a chance Rufus can get details wrong through hallucinations. But, the benefit of rapid research and gaining answers about specific products is likely to appeal to plenty of customers. Rufus also provides information in multiple languages, widening the information pool for shoppers.
And Amazon is hardly alone among e-commerce hubs in providing generative AI shopping assistants. They come in many forms, such as the search-based tool Microsoft added to Bing, Mozilla’s Fake Spot-based shopping assistant powered by a new LLM, or Mastercard’s Muse, which personalizes shopping suggestions using generative AI. There’s also the route Shopify took, augmenting its online shopping platform with a generative AI assistant relying on ChatGPT’s API, or the white-label generative AI platform Blutag offers retailers. Walmart just showcased a new search feature using generative AI to help users seek out products based on what they are used for rather than just by the name of the product.