Amazon has released a new AI assistant within its shopping app to help out customers — and it’s called Rufus.

In a Thursday statement, the tech company described Rufus as an expertly trained shopping tool to assist customers with “shopping needs, products, and comparisons, make recommendations based on this context, and facilitate product discovery in the same Amazon shopping experience customers use regularly.”

The statement also provided examples of inquiries that Rufus can answer, such as “What are clean beauty products?”, “What are good gifts for Valentine’s Day?” and “Is this pickleball paddle good for beginners?”

Last October, an article by Business Insider predicted Amazon was making an AI initiative and referred to the plan as Project Nile, which is now confirmed.

The AI assistant was released Thursday as a beta test to select U.S. consumers, and it will gradually roll out to remaining U.S. accounts in the coming weeks, according to Fox Business.

If Rufus does well for Amazon, as hypothesized by The New York Times, there’s a possibility that Amazon will win money away from Google and various social media sites, which have allegedly attempted to intrude on Amazon’s business through independent sellers.

Why is the AI assistant called Rufus?

According to The New York Times, Amazon employees are allowed to bring in dogs to their office buildings, and one of the first dogs to have roamed around the company was named Rufus.

The Welsh corgi belonged to Susan and Richard Benson, who had both worked for Amazon during the company’s early days, Business Insider reported.

The corgi was so beloved by Amazon employees that Rufus got his own Amazon page. The page describes him as “a master of the hallway tennis ball chase” and refers to him as “Amazon’s shortest volunteer worker.”

Doesn’t Amazon already have an AI feature?

Last fall, Amazon Web Services announced the AI program Q, which, according to Fox Business, was made to assist companies with business efficiency and code engineering.

Named after both the James Bond and Star Trek characters, Q was released to compete with Microsoft-backed ChatGPT and later became a premium option as a productivity software, per CNBC.

And last April, CNBC reported that Amazon Web Services was launching Bedrock, an AI language model service used to help enhance software for its cloud infrastructure.

The New York Times said the announcements regarding Q noted that Amazon was developing a way to make its Alexa voice assistant more conversational with consumers, eventually leading to Rufus being created.

What company executives have said

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According to Fox Business, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said during the company’s earnings call on Thursday, “You can carry out a conversation with Rufus on other related or unrelated questions, and it retains context coherently.”

He added, “You can sift through our rich product pages by asking Rufus questions on any product features, and it’ll return answers quickly.”

Per The New York Times, customers are most likely to use Amazon first when searching for a product, but with the rise of other shopping options on TikTok and Google, Amazon created Rufus as a way to entice consumers directly to Amazon — even those who know exactly what they want.

“You will still be able to search in the search bar if you are very clear with what you want,” Brian Olsavsky, the company’s finance chief, said Thursday, according to The New York Times. “Rufus is more there to help you explore, and maybe if you have more questions.”

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