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Shopify Buys Robots to Equip New Fulfillment Network

No modern warehouse is complete without robotics these days, and Shopify, a newcomer to the fulfillment game, is paying good money to automate its brand-new network of e-commerce facilities.

The Canadian multichannel commerce firms announced its plans to purchase 6 River Systems in a deal valued at $450 million. As a provider of collaborative warehouse services, 6 River Systems produces robots named “Chuck” to automate much of the laborious picking, packing, sorting and inventory replenishment that would otherwise fall to human workers.

Shopify says its move into fulfillment will help brand clients get orders to consumers more quickly, trimming shipping costs while improving services to its merchants.

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

Some of the 6 River Systems team have prior experience with Kiva Systems, the robotics fulfillment firm that Amazon paid $775 million for in 2012. And Shopify’s move better positions the company to compete with the likes of the Seattle-based online retailing giant, whose Fulfilled by Amazon service ensures speedy, no- or low-cost shipping for millions of Prime customers.

Jerome Dubois, who co-founded 6 River Systems and serves as co-CEO, said “thousands of businesses” stand to gain from the increased efficiencies that Shopify’s robotics-enabled warehouses will offer. 6 River Systems’ “easy-to-learn” offerings will not only aid brands in improving their operations accuracy, he added, but double—or more—their productivity.

Shopify did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how many robots will deployed in its fulfillment facilities.