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AI shopping assistants: a new shopping experience

AI shopping assistants: a new shopping experience

The rapidly evolving AI takes up many forms in an increasing number of industries. E-commerce is no different. Recently, AI-powered digital shopping assistants have started to emerge in the world of online shopping. Our article explains what such assistants can do, why they should be incorporated into online stores and what legal issues are associated with the use of such an assistant.

We have been used to digital assistants such as Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, or Amazon’s Alexa for quite a long time, with many of us actively using their services. With voice commands, users can use the assistants to get the latest weather forecasts, reply to emails or search the internet for information. 

It is therefore not surprising that AI-powered shopping assistants are gradually gaining ground abroad. They assist customers during their visit to the online store, ensuring a smooth and comfortable shopping experience. 

Compared to widely used chatbots, shopping assistants can answer a variety of customer questions, provide product information or personalised recommendations. Some of them can even do things such as adding items to a shopping cart or placing an order. The assistants are designed to make shopping easier and bring another dimension of customer experience to online shopping. 

Shopping assistants in practice

Initial projects include Rufus, Amazon’s shopping assistant. Rufus can provide customers with detailed information about products and their uses, compare individual products and recommend items based on occasion and purpose, making the entire Amazon shopping process easier for customers. 

Amazon customers can ask Rufus questions like “what present to buy a five-year-old for his birthday?" or “what to consider when buying running shoes?” and Rufus will give them immediate and accurate information, including links to specific products from Amazon’s offerings.

Another initial project is IKEA Kreativ, an interior planning tool that combines artificial intelligence and augmented reality for customers of IKEA, a furniture retailer. 

E-commerce growth

Although the development and adoption of digital shopping assistants are still in their infancy, currently available mainly to users in the United States, we can expect to see more of them in Europe as well. Unsurprisingly, the popularity of online shopping continues to grow. In 2023, more than 19% of all retail sales were made online[1] and some forecasts suggest that by 2040, online retail sales might account for up to 95%.[2]

Legal aspects of using digital assistants 

However, the use of AI-powered digital assistants raises several legal issues and, as AI-related laws are yet to be developed, many of the issues remain unresolved.  

The Artificial Intelligence Act, the world’s first law regulating AI, which we discussed in detail from a copyright perspective in our recent article, was adopted by the European Parliament in March this year. Along with the AI Act, the European Commission also presented a proposal for a directive on liability for artificial intelligence[3] and a proposal for a directive on liability for defective products.[4] The AI Act and said directives are to harmonise the rules governing AI across the EU Member States, including the liability for damage caused by AI. 

In relation to shopping assistants, there are highly relevant questions like who is liable for providing false information or insulting answers.

As the directives are still being prepared (for our detailed analysis of the content of the proposed directives, see our recent articles here and here[A1] ), the courts hearing lawsuits concerning liability for damage caused by AI will have to, for the time being, get along with existing laws. 

Since there is no AI-specific regulation in the Czech legal system yet, the courts will have to apply the general liability provisions under Title IV of Act No. 89/2012 Sb., the Civil Code, as amended (the “Civil Code”).

In connection with AI-based applications and liability for damage, legal professionals often refer to Section 2939 of the Civil Code governing liability for damage caused by a product defect. Under the provision in question, the person who manufactured the product or part thereof, the person who marked the product or part thereof with his name, trademark or otherwise, as well as the person who imported such a product to place it on the market in the course of his business, are jointly and severally liable for the damage caused by that product. 

While the provision in question is limited to defects in movable (tangible) things only, it may seem problematic to apply it to damage caused by AI or software as an intangible thing. Therefore, when assessing liability for damage caused by AI under the current laws, some other provisions of the Civil Code come into consideration, in particular Section 2924 regulating damage from business operations or Section 2937 regulating damage caused by a thing. 

However, none of the above-mentioned provisions can be considered entirely appropriate to handle claims for compensation for damage caused by AI. It remains to be seen which direction the Czech courts will take to rule on liability for damage caused by AI under the current laws. 

We have already seen the first lawsuits in this area abroad. For example, the British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal heard a case where Air Canada’s chatbot mistakenly promised a customer a discount on a flight ticket

The customer requested a discount as instructed by the chatbot, but the airline refused to grant the discount, claiming that the chatbot had provided the customer with incorrect information, making not the airline but the chatbot itself liable as a separate legal entity. The Tribunal agreed with the customer as the injured party, ruling that the airline was liable for the incorrect information provided by the chatbot, and ordered the airline to compensate the customer. [5]


Digital shopping assistants are undoubtedly an interesting tool to improve the customer experience, to differentiate your company from competitors and possibly even attract new customers. However, as is often the case, the legal regulation of AI is still being shaped in the context of advances in technology. Therefore, the use of AI, including digital shopping assistants, raises many legal questions that have so far remained unanswered. With the advent of digital shopping assistants, it will be interesting to see in which direction both legal and commercial practice will evolve. 

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