Last year, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said that every single business division at the company was experimenting with AI. Today, Amazon has announced its most ambitious AI product yet: a chatbot named Rufus to assist with your online shopping.
Imagine ChatGPT, but one that knows every single detail about all the products in Amazon’s vast catalog. Plus, it is also connected to the web, which means it can pull information from the internet to answer your questions. For example, if you plan to buy a microSD card, Rufus can tell you which speed class is the best for your photography needs.
Amazon says you can type all your questions in the search box, and Rufus will handle the rest. The generative AI chatbot is trained on “product catalog, customer reviews, community Q&As, and information from across the web.”
In a nutshell, Amazon wants to decouple the hassle of looking up articles on the web before you make up your mind and then arrive on Amazon to put an item in your cart. Another benefit of Rufus is that instead of reading through a product page for a certain tiny detail, you can ask the question directly and get the appropriate responses.
Amazon says Rufus is capable of answering generic queries such as “What to look for before buying a pair of running shoes” or simply telling it, “I need to deck up my workstation,” and it will automatically recommend the relevant products. In a nutshell, it’s a web-crawling recommendation machine that will also answer your questions, product-specific or otherwise.
“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,” says the company’s official blog post.
For queries such as “Is this phone case reliable,” the AI bot will summarize an answer based on product reviews, Q&As, and information mentioned on the product page. At the end of the day, it’s all about making informed purchasing decisions with some help from an AI chatbot.
Rufus is currently limited to s small selection of Amazon mobile app users in the U.S. as part of a beta test. However, this is an early version of the product, and Amazon also warns that Rufus “won’t always get it exactly right.” In the coming weeks, the AI chatbot will be made available to a broader set of users in its home market.
Rufus seems to be one of the more thoughtful and practical implementations of generative AI I’ve seen recently, and far away from the hype machinery built around the tech with hidden caveats. Plus, it seems to be free, without any Prime mandates.