Shopify Buys 6 River to Boost Robotics Business

The e-commerce platform believes 6 River's Chuck robots will increase the speed and reliability of its AI-powered fulfillment network.
Matthew HellerSeptember 10, 2019

Canadian e-commerce platform Shopify has agreed to acquire robotics startup 6 River Systems for $450 million in a move to accelerate the growth of its AI-powered fulfillment network.

6 River is best known for its Chuck autonomous vehicles that can move around packages in warehouses. Two of its founders helped develop Amazon’s robotics business when they were at Kiva Systems.

Shopify said adding the Chuck robots to the new Shopify Fulfillment Network will increase the speed and reliability of its warehouse operations, assisting workers with such tasks as inventory replenishment, picking, sorting and packing. The network uses machine learning to ensure timely deliveries and lower shipping costs.

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

The acquisition will consist of approximately 60% in cash and 40% in Shopify Class A subordinate voting shares. 6 River, which was founded in Waltham, Mass., in 2015, is expected to generate annual billings of about $30 million in 2020.

“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,” said Jerome Dubois, co-CEO and co-founder of 6 River.

The Shopify platform currently powers more than 800,000 businesses in about 175 countries. The Fulfilment Network currently supports merchants that ship between 10 to 10,000 packages per day but Shopify hopes to eventually support between three to 30,000 packages per day.

The 6 River acquisition is “a critical step to accelerate” the network’s growth, Shopify said.

6 River provides robotics technology to more than 20 warehouses in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, It fulfills millions of units each week for companies including Lockheed Martin, CSAT Solutions, ACT Fulfillment, DHL, XPO Logistics, and Office Depot.

After it is acquired by Shopify, it will continue to sell its solutions to other warehouses, not just Shopify’s.

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