|Shopify acquired 6 River Systems, a collaborative warehouse automation technology provider / Photo Credit: Piotr Swat (via Shutterstock)|
According to Robert DeFrancesco of business news Forbes, Shopify has turned to the power of robots to help grow its fulfillment services for its more than one million merchants. In June, Shopify unveiled its Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN), a group of distributed fulfillment centers, providing merchants with low-cost shipping, warehousing, and packaging services. Last month, the company acquired 6 River Systems, a provider of collaborative warehouse automation technology, for $450 million.
It is known for its cloud-based software and mobile robots named “Chuck.” 6 River’s team of over 130 employees consists of experienced leaders from Kiva Systems, a company that was purchased by Amazon in 2012 and renamed Amazon Robotics. Over the next few years, Shopify plans big investments to expand fulfillment, making it on par with Amazon. Currently in the early access phase, Shopify CFO Amy Shapero said that customer interest in Shopify “has been much stronger than expected.”
Logistics capabilities are key when competing with Amazon. Shopify's 6 River robots help boost the productivity of warehouse workers and speed “up the overall fulfillment process.” The self-driving carts guide employees through warehouse aisles to attend to customers’ orders more efficiently.
Wall Street supported the 6 River Systems acquisition as investors perceive it as a practical way for Shopify to accelerate its fulfillment strategy and expand its market. Moreover, 6 River’s leadership team will also be a valuable asset for Shopify. Merchants that deploy the new fulfillment network will get their products to customers faster and cheaper by taking advantage of Shopify’s scale with machine learning, demand forecasting, and intelligent order routing.
The Shopify platform predicts the nearest fulfillment centers and optimal inventory quantities per location to ensure that customers are offered the fastest and low-cost delivery service. This is done using the company’s smart inventory-allocation technology. The consumer is the winner when it comes to fulfillment. However, a strong customer selling experience is advantageous to brands and merchants of all sizes as it “leads to repeat purchases.” This shows how Shopify is adept at developing new solutions and offerings to enable businesses to sell more of their goods.