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Amazon releases mobile generative AI shopping assistant

Amazon Rufus
Amazon Rufus aids shoppers with generative AI capabilities.

Amazon’s latest generative AI-based solution is a feature in its mobile app called "Rufus."

Rufus is a generative AI-based expert shopping assistant trained on Amazon’s product catalog, customer reviews, community Q&As, and information from across the web to answer customer questions on topics such as shopping needs, products, and comparisons; make recommendations based on conversational context; and facilitate product discovery within the mainstream Amazon shopping experience.

Launching Thursday, Feb. 1 in beta to a small subset of customers in Amazon’s mobile app, Rufus will progressively roll out to additional U.S. customers in the coming weeks.

The feature is designed to answer broad customer queries 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?”.

To use Rufus, customers in the beta can start typing or speaking their questions into the search bar in Amazon’s mobile app and a Rufus chat dialog box will appear at the bottom of their screen. Customers can expand the chat dialog box to see answers to their questions, tap on suggested questions, and ask follow-up questions in the chat dialog box. 

Customers can dismiss Rufus to return to their traditional search results at any time by swiping down to send the chat dialog box back to the bottom of their screen.

Amazon says it will keep improving its AI models and fine-tune responses to continuously make Rufus more helpful over time. Customers can leave feedback by rating their answers with a thumbs up or thumbs down, and they have the option to provide freeform commentary as well.

"We are excited about the potential of generative AI and will continue testing new features to make it even easier to find and discover, research, and buy products in Amazon’s store," Rajiv Mehta, VP, search and conversational shopping, Amazon, and Trishul Chilimbi, VP and distinguished scientist, stores foundational AI, Amazon, said in a corporate blog post. "We look forward to progressively rolling Rufus out to additional U.S. customers in the coming weeks."

Amazon goes all in on generative AI

Rufus is the latest in a string of generative AI solutions and initiatives launched by Amazon. The e-tailer’s Amazon Pharmacy full-service digital pharmacy division recently began using generative AI, including multiple, pre-trained models from the Amazon Bedrock and Amazon SageMaker proprietary platforms, in an effort to fill prescriptions more quickly and accurately. 

Other examples include a partnership with Nvidia to create a tool that identifies product listings where the content could be improved and automatically generates revised content, additional advanced AI tools designed to streamline the creation and editing of product listings, and AI-enabled features to assist fashion shoppers and sellers., such as personalized size recommendations. 

The e-tailer also recently unveiled a generative AI-based chatbox for employees to use at work, and is letting customers search by image and summarize product reviews with generative AI. 

Generative AI is also a key component of the Amazon Just Walk Out frictionless shopping platform, and the retailer is actively involved in efforts to streamline its supply chain with AI-equipped robots. 

In addition, Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud services platform of Amazon is in a strategic collaboration with San Francisco-based generative AI developer Anthropic that includes investing up to $4 billion in the company and holding a minority ownership position. 

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