On Thursday, Amazon introduced Rufus, an A.I. personal shopping assistant accessible through the mobile app search bar. The tool provides conversational answers to product questions and will be released to a small number of customers initially, with plans for a wider release in the near future. This move comes as Amazon works to catch up with other tech giants that have already entered the consumer chatbot arena.
Amazon’s Rufus is trained using extensive product catalog, customer reviews, and other web information. The company has been working to enhance its A.I. capabilities, particularly in the wake of other tech giants’ releases of chatbots and A.I. tools geared towards shopping-related tasks. Amazon’s search bar and top results are highly significant in online retail, and the company has been working to improve the customer search experience.
In addition to Rufus, Amazon has also released the corporate chatbot, Q, for its cloud computing customers, and has been focused on enhancing the conversational abilities of its Alexa voice assistant.
Interestingly, the name Rufus may have historical significance for Amazon, as the company used to allow employees to bring dogs to work, and a dog named Rufus was one of the first to roam the company’s office. As Amazon continues to expand its A.I. capabilities, the company is also set to release its fourth-quarter financial results on Thursday.