The British automation provider Ocado Group is set to add new tools to its catalog after acquiring autonomous mobile robot (AMR) maker 6 River Systems (6RS) from Shopify, the company said Thursday.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Shopify originally bought 6 River Systems in 2019 for $450 million.
Yesterday’s sale was part of Shopify’s decision to sell off its Shopify Logistics arm to San Francisco-based logistics platform provider Flexport. According to Shopify, shedding its physical logistics capabilities will allow it to focus more sharply on providing its commerce platform for retailers at a time when artificial intelligence (AI) will soon begin to act as “a copilot for entrepreneurship.”
For its purchase price, Ocado gains a company that has provided its “Chuck” AMRs to more than 70 customers and over 100 warehouses worldwide.
Ocado plans to use Massachusetts-based 6RS’ collaborative fulfilment solutions to grow into additional markets beyond its core expertise in the e-commerce grocery sector. "We are delighted to welcome new colleagues to the Ocado family. 6 River Systems brings exciting new IP and possibilities to the wider Ocado technology estate, as well as valuable commercial and R&D expertise in non-grocery retail segments," James Matthews, CEO of Ocado Technology, said in a release.
Specifically, Ocado will gain the ability to enter new growth markets such as general merchandise retail, apparel, health and beauty, and third party logistics (3PL), according to an analysis of the deal by Ash Sharma, managing director at Interact Analysis. Those sectors are all looking for solutions to solve their problems with labor shortages, and 6RS’ “person to goods” robots can meet that need by assisting human workers in picking items and cases in fulfillment centers, Sharma said.