Amazon rolls out Rufus, a generative AI shopping assistant

  • Amazon is rolling out a generative AI shopping assistant that answers product questions
  • Rufus is trained on product listing data, reviews, community Q&As, and web data
  • The conversational shopping experience also provides product recommendations and comparisons

Amazon has started giving select users access to its AI shopping assistant called Rufus which launched in beta this week.

Rufus is a text-based chatbot that provides users with a conversational shopping experience that guides the user in discovering new products and answering product queries.

Amazon trained the AI on the vast amount of product listing data it has as well as user reviews and data collected from its community Q&As.

Before Rufus, shoppers would need to read through piles of reviews to get a sense of the overall feedback on a product before deciding whether or not to buy it. If you had a question about a product, you’d have to read through the listing details or the questions and answers others had posted in the Q&As section.

Now you can simply ask Rufus, and the AI will provide an answer based on the data at its disposal. Amazon says Rufus will also access “information from across the web” without being more specific on what data it collects.

Amazon gave examples of how a shopper could use Rufus with questions like “What to consider when buying running shoes?” or “What are the differences between trail and road running shoes?”

A shopper could use Rufus to discover new products by asking broader questions like, “What do I need for cold weather golf?”

Want to find a perfect gift but don’t have time to do the research? Simply prompt Rufus with “best dinosaur toys for a 5-year-old” to get a curated list of products.

Implications beyond shopping

Rufus will undoubtedly make shopping on Amazon a lot easier but the chatbot will impact people and companies beyond the shopping platform.

Amazon’s affiliate program has spawned a massive industry supporting the creation of SEO-optimized websites designed to drive traffic to Amazon products to earn affiliate commissions.

Previously, you would Google a question like “What is the best drip coffee maker?”, click through to one of the top websites in the search results, and read the content. With Rufus, you no longer need to do that.

Google ads and Amazon affiliate revenue from referral traffic from the product review site can add up to substantial monthly revenue. Once Rufus rolls out fully, these sites will almost certainly see a dip in traffic and income.

Rufus is a good example of how AI is completely changing the way we use the internet to find answers to our questions. It’s also an example of how quickly AI can disrupt entire industries and income streams.

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