Shopify Purchases Warehouse Robot Company

It’s been a roller coaster week. I think there is still interest in Shopify in this board - while their earnings seem to be slipping and don’t compare to other super-star SAAS companies, their stock price seems to defy gravity.

There was a story today (…) that Shopify bought 6 River Systems for 450 million USD.

6 River Systems is a robotics company based in Boston (they all seem to be), and was formed in 2015, by two former employees of Kiva Systems - a robotics company that Amazon bought back in 2012.

Their main product is a robot named Chuck that supports warehouse workers - the cart has the order, and picks the best path through the warehouse to the items. The human takes the items off the shelf, scans them, and puts them on the cart. According to 6 Rivers, Chuck is cheap (half the cost of other robotic systems) and doubles or triples productivity.

A report in Robotics Business Review (that’s a real site) indicated that 6 Rivers is focused on e-commerce, and they’re growing quickly. In July, 2018, they expected to expand from 10 customers with 100 robots (not sure if that’s total robots, or 100 per customer) to 30 customers with 600+ robots by the end of 2018. But ZDNet said yesterday that 30 facilities use the robots - sales did not quite meet expectations.

Shopify wants robots to staff their fulfillment centers that they announced back in mid-June.

Some fulfillment centers they run directly, and some are third-parties - most likely the robots will be for Shopify-run warehouses.

If you believe that Shopify is an up and coming competitor to Amazon, this sounds like a smart move. I suspect that sort of thinking is what’s driving Shopify’s stock price.

Very few companies can actually be compared to Amazon. I’ve probably bought a few items off Shopify-powered websites (branding makes it hard to tell), but I’ve bought a lot off Amazon, and with Prime, there’s tv, movies, music, photo storage, etc.

Something to mentally file away if you’re following Shopify.