(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. is adding an artificial intelligence shopping companion to its retail store in an effort to help shoppers comparison shop and seek answers to queries more complicated than a keyword search. 

Called Rufus, the shopping assistant is launching on Thursday to “a small subset of customers” who use Amazon’s mobile app, the online retail giant said in a blog post. The company says users can ask the software what they’d need to start an indoor garden or ask for Valentine’s Day recommendations, among other questions. 

For years, shoppers have manually typed keywords or product names into Amazon’s search bar, seeking either a specific item or looking for one based on its features. That functionality suddenly seemed out of date with the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other generative AI-powered tools capable of surfacing products based on strings of conversational text, and ready to respond with recommendations and comparisons. 

Walmart Inc. last month expanded the rollout of an AI-powered tool that lets shoppers search for products by use cases rather than naming products specifically. The app is available on the Walmart app for iOS users.

Amazon later Thursday is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings results. 

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