Shopify turns to chat bots with acquisition of Kit CRM

Steven Loeb · April 13, 2016 · Short URL:

Kit, a virtual marketing assistant for stores, will remain in operation under the Shopify umbrella

Does anyone remember SmarterChild? He was a bot that you could talk to via AIM back in the day. You could ask him stuff like about movie times, sports scores, or just general information (this was before Wikipedia). Or you could do what I did as an immature 13 year old: curse him out until he refused to talk to you anymore. That literally happened to me. 

Now, here we are, 15 years later, and now these types of bots have become all the rage, with companies like Facebook and Kik pointing to them as the future of social interaction, for everything including e-commerce.

Shopify is also getting in on the action, revealing on Wednesday that it has acquired chat bot Kit CRM. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2013, Kit is a virtual marketing assistant that leverages messaging to help businesses market their online stores. 

Kit can build Facebook ads targeted to the audience most likely to buy, and it can also build carousel ads to market several products at once. Kit can also update fans with Facebook posts and email marketing campaigns when there are new products to showcase. And it can send personalized thank you emails to new and repeat customers after a purchase to build brand loyalty.

Last month, Kit also introduced an API that allows it to interact with other apps in the Shopify App Store.

Going forward, Kit will continue to work on their product offerings under the Shopify umbrella from San Francisco. Eight Kit employees will be joining Shopify and they will continue building out Kit’s product offerings.

 "The integration is happening gradually and is in process right now," Craig Miller, Shopify's Chief Marketing Officer, told me. "Kit will remain as an app in the app store and we’re excited to help Kit evolve even further as it grows and develops with Shopify."

Kit was the right fit for Shopify because it "has been focusing on the intersection of commerce and messaging since their inception. Their vision of the future squarely aligned with ours. This acquisition accelerates our product roadmap and also brings top talent to Shopify," he said.

The acquisition of Kit comes only a day after Shopify announced that it would be integrating with new Facebook Messenger Platform, which was revealed on Tuesday, giving tools to 50 million businesses so that they can build their own chat bots to reach the 900 million Facebook Messenger users.

So, for example, if you want to order flowers, rather than calling 1-800-Flowers, or going online, you can just message with the company's bot and it will order them for you.

Kik also recently launched its own bot store, following its purchase of fashion advice bot Blynk in December. The Bot Shop features bots from a list of Kik's partners, including Funny Or Die, Riffsy, Sephora, Vine, and The Weather Channel.

For Shopify, bots represent the future, a way to make shopping easier for customers.

"We believe messaging apps are the gateway for the internet on mobile, and conversational commerce represents a huge opportunity for Shopify,"Miller said to me.

"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."

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