Amazon Launches Chatbot 'Rufus' To Answer Your Shopping Questions

Kiplinger · 08 Feb 7.8K Views

Meet Rufus, Amazon's newly launched shopping assistant powered by artificial intelligence (AI), designed to answer your shopping questions and help you buy more.

Rufus launched as a beta version on February 1 to a small subset of U.S. customers who use Amazon's mobile app. The company said it will gradually roll out the chatbot to the rest of its U.S. customers in coming weeks.

With training from Amazon's vast product catalog, user reviews, community Q&As and information from other online sources, Rufus can respond to customer questions on a range of topics related to shopping and product comparisons, Amazon said. It can also provide recommendations based on conversations with customers.

According to Amazon, information that Rufus can provide customers with includes:

  • What to look for while shopping in specific product categories. Customers can ask Rufus questions such as — “What should I consider when buying headphones?”
  • Suggestions for specific occasions or purposes, answering questions or statements such as  — “What do I need for cold weather golf?” or “I want to start an indoor garden.”
  • Comparisons of product categories, answering questions such as — “What’s the difference between lip gloss and lip oil?”
  • Recommendations based on specific customer needs, answering questions such as — “What are the best dinosaur toys for a five-year-old?"
  • More details about a product while on that product's page, answering questions such as — “Is this jacket machine washable?” or “Is this cordless drill easy to hold?”

“Rufus meaningfully improves how easy it is for customers to find and discover the best products to meet their needs, integrated seamlessly into the same Amazon shopping experience they use regularly,” Amazon said in a statement.

How to use Rufus

Once you get access to the bot, you can type or speak questions into the mobile app's search bar. A chat dialog box will appear at the bottom of the screen that allows you to search or ask questions, which you can expand to see answers, tap on suggestions or ask follow-up questions.

When you're done using Rufus or if you're not interested in the bot, you can dismiss it and return to the traditional search process by swiping down to send the chatbot to the bottom of the screen.

Walmart's AR 'try-on' eyewear

The move comes as Walmart launches an augmented reality (AR) feature, Optical Virtual Try-On, which uses 3D and advanced algorithms to create a digital twin of eyewear frames. The feature allows customers to virtually "try on" more than 750 frames and purchase prescription eyewear, Walmart said in a statement.

"While the concept of virtual try-on is not new, Walmart is taking it to the next level," Walmart said. The company added that it has increased investments in AR and virtual reality (VR) technologies and that Optical Virtual Try-On expands the use of those technologies.

To use the feature, visit Walmart online or use the Walmart app and click on the "try them on" flag in the main image on the product page. You need to allow a facial scan and view the glasses "as if you were wearing them looking in the mirror," and customize the lenses that work best for you, Walmart says on its website. You also need to upload your prescription and allow a scan to capture your pupillary distance measurements.

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