We’re standing on the edge of the chatbot revolution, and I’m reminded of how I felt when those first apps hit the store in 2007. Only this time, the apps talk back.
And following its announcement at Facebook’s F8 developer conference yesterday — where it became the first commerce platform to announce an integration with Facebook Messenger — Shopify today announced that it has agreed to acquire privately held Kit CRM Inc. Details of the deal were not disclosed.
Kit is the virtual marketing assistant I’ve covered at length before. It leverages SMS and other messaging platforms to help companies market their online stores by asking salient questions at the right time.
Kit can email your customers, build Facebook ads, sponsor Instagram photos, and send you timely reports to let you know if you sold those last ten pairs of designer jeans. And last month we announced it had launched an API, allowing partners to expand on its artificial intelligence. It can now help you set discounts, retarget website visitors, engage with the customer after an abandoned cart, and handle 404 errors — all through a simple chat interface, and in 20 countries.
“The Kit team has been focusing on the intersection of commerce and messaging since their inception,” Craig Miller, chief marketing officer at Shopify told me. “Their vision of the future is squarely aligned with ours. This acquisition accelerates our product roadmap and also brings top talent to Shopify.”
With Shopify’s announcement yesterday that it is building commerce bots for Facebook Messenger Platform, I wondered how this acquisition dovetails with that intent.
“We believe messaging apps are the gateway to the Internet on mobile, and conversational commerce represents a huge opportunity for Shopify,” Miller said. “The acquisition of Kit, along with Shopify’s integration with the new Facebook Messenger Platform announced yesterday, further supports our focus on helping merchants embrace conversational commerce.”
With so many bot fingers in the messaging and chat app pie, Shopify must be tempted to roll Kit into its Messenger project. For now, though, it appears nothing will change.
“In the near term Kit will remain as a Shopify app in our App Store,” Miller said.
For Michael Perry, founder and CEO at Kit, today’s acquisition is a milestone in a journey that started in 2013.
“Shopify is the ideal company to acquire Kit,” Perry said. “Their commitment to business owners and their view of the future is directly aligned with our own mission and goals. We both want small business owners and entrepreneurs to be successful.”
The original mission remains the same too.
“Kit will continue to work as a team that is laser-focused on building the future of virtual workforce and conversational commerce for business owners,” Perry said. “I feel very fortunate that we have Shopify’s full support to build the future of commerce together.”