On February 1, 2024, Amazon entered into a new era of shopping where Rufus, their AI-powered chatbot will assist customers with their shopping.
The AI chatbot is trained on Amazon’s customer reviews, product catalogue, questions and answers by community and as the company said, “information from across the web”. It is currently in beta and available for a small group of users in the USA. Selected customer groups will have access to it once they update their Amazon shopping app both in iOS and Android. However, the tech giant has a plan to extensive roll out across the country from the 3rd week of February.
Amazon portrays Rufus as their customers’ one-stop shopping solution. The chatbot is able to provide general advice on product categories, product recommendations and comparisons. Rufus can also provide contextual advice based on specific activities like swimming, running or hiking and events like Christmas holidays or celebrations.
Users can type their questions in the search bar of Amazon’s mobile app. Replies from the chatbot will appear in the chat dialogue box. Customers can ask follow-up questions as well.
According to Amazon, Rufus can seamlessly handle questions like
“What to consider when buying running shoes?” The bot will provide answers to comparison questions like “What are the differences between trail and road running shoes?” terms that people would ask Google previously. Rufus can respond to follow-up questions like “Are these durable?” Another feature of the AI-powered chatbot is getting recommendations for specific age groups like “Best dollhouse for 5-year-old girls”.
Amazon has also kept the option for opting out of using Rufus. If any user wants to go back to traditional search, he/she can do it at any time by swiping down the chat dialog box back to the bottom of their respective screen. Understandably, users may face glitches in the beta stage while using the AI- chatbot. However, Amazon says it will work continuously to improve the bot’s performance to give users a seamless shopping experience.
“It’s still early days for generative AI, and the technology won’t always get it exactly right,” wrote Amazon executive Rajiv Mehta. “We will keep improving our AI models and fine-tune responses to continuously make Rufus more helpful over time. Customers are encouraged to leave feedback by rating their answers with a thumbs up or thumbs down, and they have the option to provide freeform feedback as well.”
Since 2023, almost every division of Amazon has been working extensively on generative AI. Rufus is the latest addition of many AI-centric solutions Amazon has invented. It can be mentioned here that tech giant Google has also joined the AI shopping assistant lane through its ‘Google Search’s AI image generator’ that lets you make up your dream products and buy the real versions.
Amazon’s biggest competitor Walmart has also introduced a similar AI-powered bot to assist, recommend or compare products and chat with customers.