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Meet Rufus: Amazon’s AI shopping assistant is here

Meet Rufus: Amazon's AI shopping assistant is here
Meet Rufus: Amazon's AI shopping assistant is here
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Amazon introduced Rufus, its latest ‘generative AI-powered expert shopping assistant,’ designed to transform how customers interact with Amazon’s extensive product catalog. 

As an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant, Rufus will provide personalized shopping guidance, including product comparisons and recommendations directly within the mobile app. Rufus is currently in beta, and in the process of rolling out to US customers. 

Amazon’s Rufus: What you need to know

Amazon says Rufus is trained on the platform’s vast product catalog “to make shopping even easier and more convenient.” It can scour thousands of reviews in the blink of an eye to help customers find what they are looking for. 

Personalized size guidance stands out among the assistant’s features, helping clients find the size that will fit them best. 

It’s also trained to assist with a vast range of queries, from broad questions like “what is the difference between trail and road running shoes,” to specific questions, such as, “which of these shoes are more durable?” 

Customers can also search for themes, ranging from “clothes for cold weather running,” to “I want to start an indoor garden.” 

Rufus versus the rest?

AI-powered everything is all the rage in 2024, and it’s going to be a cutthroat environment as retail giants try to come up with the next big thing. In fact, the ‘Explosive Growth of Generative AI’ is one of Data.AI predictions for the mobile market this year. 

AI is expected to power up to 10% of all app downloads in 2024, with a 40% year-over-year growth rate. Downloads of generative AI apps have already expanded nine-fold during 2023.

Walmart’s assistant

Walmart recently introduced a new search experience powered by generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) to reshape how customers search for products. 

The iOS app can differentiate between shoppers searching for a “football watch party,” and those who are searching for snacks or a new TV. 

Michelle Grant, director of industry insights at Salesforce and a trusted researcher of retail trends, used both Walmart’s assistant and Rufus. She noted that Rufus’s UX is different, with the search results situated in a separate chat window.

“I wonder how they determine what is shown in that window? I didn’t see any ‘sponsored’ results in the video. Walmart shows sponsored results in the list,” Grant shared on X.

MasterCard’s Shopping Muse

MasterCard introduced its Shopping Muse assistant in December, promising “simpler shopping, faster decisions, and increased conversion.” 

Shopping Muse and Amazon’s Rufus are both powered by AI and designed to enhance a customer’s online experience, yet they differ in their functionalities and how they integrate with their ecosystems. 

Rufus operates directly on the Amazon platform while Shopping Muse is ‘platform-agnostic’, meaning it can be integrated across a wide range of services, merchants, and transaction types. 

ALSO READ: App trends: What to expect in mobile tech in 2024

Why Rufus?

The shopping assistant is named after the dog of a former Amazon editor-in-chief and principal engineer. The original Rufus was affectionately known as “Amazon’s shortest volunteer worker.” He loved to sit in on meetings and was “a master of hallway tennis ball chase.”

“When Amazon customers found out there was an Amazon dog, they sent Rufus presents. His celebrity status never turned his head, though.”

Amazon says his proudest accomplishment was starting a dog-friendly culture at the A to Z headquarters. He loved walks on the beach and stealing other dogs’ toys. He also loved cats, but wasn’t a fan of thunder, fireworks, or earthquakes. Rufus crossed the rainbow bridge peacefully on May 27, 2009.

Other shopping assistants making headlines

Businesses are realizing that AI shopping assistants will reduce costs and save time since it automates routine tasks. It can handle everything from customer queries to tracking orders, and, in the case of Rufus, recommend personalized products to customers. 

Infobip surveyed businesses to gather insights on omnichannel strategies for AI shopping assistants; the researchers found that 63% of organizations plan to increase their communications platform costs this year by implementing chatbots.  

Apart from Amazon, Walmart, and MasterCard leading the pack, SoftBank Group also filed patents for their version of an AI shopping assistant, while Shopify and Kering are experimenting with GenAI chatbots. 

Meanwhile, the ChatGPT-powered Manifest chatbot is making waves – already marketed as the ‘future of Shopify optimization.’

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About the author

Cheryl has contributed to various international publications, with a fervor for data and technology. She explores the intersection of emerging tech trends with logistics, focusing on how digital innovations are reshaping industries on a global scale. When she's not dissecting the latest developments in AI-driven innovation and digital solutions, Cheryl can be found gaming, kickboxing, or navigating the novel niches of consumer gadgetry.

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