An illustrative image of the Amazon shopping app seen on a mobile phone screen in front of an old, left, and a new, right, Amazon shopping app icon displayed on a screen.

Artur Widak | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Amazon on Thursday announced a new artificial intelligence assistant for shopping called Rufus.

The tool is designed to help users search and shop for products. Shoppers type or speak a question into the search bar in Amazon’s mobile app and a chat window will appear at the bottom of their screen. Users can ask conversational questions such as, “What are the differences between trail and road running shoes?” or “Compare drip and pour-over coffee makers.”

“Rufus meaningfully improves how easy it is for customers to find and discover the best products to meet their needs,” Amazon said in a blog post.

Rufus uses Amazon’s product catalog, customer reviews and Q&As, as well as information from across the web to answer questions, the company said.

Amazon said it’s testing the feature with a small subset of users in the U.S. but intends to roll it out nationwide in the coming weeks.

CEO Andy Jassy has said the company plans to incorporate generative AI across all of its businesses. Amazon will likely give an update on its AI efforts when it reports fourth-quarter earnings after the bell Thursday.

Amazon has launched numerous generative AI tools and services in recent months, capitalizing on the hype sparked by OpenAI’s ChatGPT. The company has tested AI tools to answer shoppers’ questions and summarize reviews, as well as an AI feature to help third-party sellers write listings. Outside of its retail business, Amazon has introduced Q, a chatbot for businesses, and Bedrock, a generative AI service for cloud customers.

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