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Amazon Enters Chatbot Fray With Shopping Tool

Amazon Enters Chatbot Fray With Shopping Tool

The tech giant introduced the Rufus chatbot. It has lagged behind others on introducing consumer-facing generative artificial intelligence.

Amazon entered the consumer chatbot fray on Thursday, announcing a new artificial intelligence personal shopping assistant as the company races to catch up with other tech giants.

Customers can ask the tool, Rufus, product questions directly in the search bar of the company’s mobile app, Amazon said in a blog post. The A.I. will then provide answers in a conversational tone. The examples provided in the announcement included comparing different kinds of coffee makers, recommendations for gifts and a follow-up question about the durability of running shoes.

Rufus will be available starting on Thursday to a “small subset of customers,” according to the post, and it will be rolled out to additional customers in the coming weeks. Amazon declined to provide more details about how many people will be part of the tool’s initial release.

Amazon allows its employees to bring their dogs to work, and a dog named Rufus was one of the first to roam its offices in the company’s early days.

Amazon has been racing to shake off the perception that it is behind on the wave of A.I. tools unleashed more than a year ago, when the start-up OpenAI released its ChatGPT chatbot. If customers find Rufus helpful and popular, Amazon could shake up the business of searching for products — and control even more of the experience of shopping online.

Rufus “lets customers discover items in a very different way than they have been able to on e-commerce websites,” Andy Jassy, the company’s chief executive, said on a call with investors. “It’s seamlessly integrated in the Amazon experience that customers are used to and love to be able to take action,” he said.

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