Adding robotics capabilities to its new fulfillment service launched in June, major SMB ecommerce platform Shopify is acquiring 6 River Systems for $450 million, the companies announced, making it the first platform firm with this capability for its ecommerce seller customers worldwide.
The plan is to have 3PL partners in Shopify’s fulfillment network implement 6 River’s so-called “co-bots” or Chucks that work collaboratively with fulfillment associates into their operations. 6 River will continue to sell its services to the broader market. Its customers include Office Depot and XPO Logistics.
These moves come as Shopify rival eBay is also launching a fulfillment service for its marketplace sellers, although not until next year. It was announced at eBay’s user conference in July.
“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 of Shopify, in a release. “With 6 River Systems, we will bring technology and operational efficiencies to companies of all sizes around the world.”
6 River robots work with warehouse associates to intelligently eliminate long walks and simplify tasks, including inventory picking, replenishment, sorting and packing.
“Logistics providers that are part of the Shopify Fulfillment Network will greatly benefit from implementing the 6 River Systems solution,” said Craig Miller, Chief Product Officer for Shopify. “As well, we’ll contribute to build and sell the 6 River solution to logistics providers that are not are not part of the Shopify Fulfilment Network, but would like to also make their fulfillment operations more efficient.”
6 River Systems, which raised $25 million in series B funding last year, is projected to pull in 2020 revenue of $30 million, according to TechCrunch.
Miller said Shopify settled on 6 River among a large crop of robotics startups – many in the Boston area – because both organizations shared similar views of how to improve ecommerce fulfillment for companies of all sizes, and based on numerous recommendations from experts. 6 River was founded by former executives from Kiva Systems, which is now Amazon Robotics.
“When speaking to people in the fulfillment industry, the 6 River Systems team and their products came up time and time again,” he said. “When we met the team, we discovered great alignment – a shared vision, philosophy and culture.”
Research firm R.W. Baird said in a note that Shopify is on track to become the second-largest ecommerce platform in the U.S. this year in terms of third-party sales volume, surpassing eBay and behind just Amazon, according to CNBC.