Shopify Adds Mobile Robots to its Arsenal With This $450 Million Acquisition

Automation and machine learning continue to disrupt the retail industry — so it’s little wonder that Shopify is aiming to bring the technology to its fulfillment process. Shopify said this week it has acquired 6 River Systems, a warehouse automation solutions provider, for $450 million.

6 River Systems was founded by two former Kiva Systems employees; the team was responsible for developing Amazon’s robotics technologies. Through the acquisition, Shopify will gain access to mobile robots and automated software that streamline the fulfillment process of e-commerce orders.

“Shopify is taking on fulfillment the same way we’ve approached other commerce challenges, by bringing together the best technology to help everyone compete,” said Tobi Lütke, CEO at Shopify. “With 6 River Systems, we will bring technology and operational efficiencies to companies of all sizes around the world.”

Shopify launched its fulfillment network in June, a system designed to offer merchants reliable delivery at low costs. This week’s acquisition will build on Shopify’s new solution and allow its customers to utilize a mobile robot called Chuck, which aids human workers with picking and sorting orders in the warehouse. The robot is supported by cloud software that prioritizes workflow for employees in a bid to improve productivity.

As customers expect faster and more convenient delivery, retailers are having to compete with the logistic capabilities of companies like Amazon and Walmart. With the introduction of its fulfillment network and this acquisition, Shopify is positioning itself as a competitive choice for merchants. Amazon offers Fulfillment by Amazon to its merchants.

“By joining Shopify, we’re changing the game of fulfillment,” said Jerome Dubois, co-CEO and co-founder of 6 River Systems. “Together, we will help thousands of businesses improve their fulfillment operations with an easy-to-learn solution that can more than double productivity and improve accuracy.”

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