Shopify acquires Kit CRM to bolster bot-based messaging for merchants

Kit CRM is a virtual marketing assistant that leverages SMS and other messaging to help businesses manage their online stores.

Small business e-commerce platform provider Shopify has had a long-standing relationship with Facebook. So when the social networking giant announced yesterday plans to build chatbots into the next generation of the Messenger platform, Shopify was first in line with a native integration for its sellers.

But today Shopify is taking it a step further, announcing the acquisition of Kit CRM, a virtual marketing assistant that leverages SMS and other messaging to help businesses manage their online stores. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Kit allows businesses to send emails to customers, build ads on Facebook, sponsor Instagram posts, post updates to their Facebook Page, and make personalized recommendations -- all via a text or SMS chat interface. Kit also offers an API that lets it interact with other apps in the Shopify App Store.

Shopify says the acquisition will strengthen its offerings surrounding "conversational commerce," which is basically this concierge style of customer service interaction that can be applied in a variety of online scenarios.

Simply put, Shopify is building commerce bots for Messenger, but it also wants to offer them to merchants using any number of other messaging techniques.

"We believe messaging apps are the gateway for the internet on mobile, and conversational commerce represents a huge opportunity for Shopify," said Shopify CMO Craig Miller. "Kit addresses a real pain point for merchants and is one of our most highly rated apps in the Shopify app store."

For now Kit will remain as an app in the Shopify app store, but we can expect to see its technology seeping into Shopify's products over time. Currently, Kit offers integrations to other e-commerce marketplaces such as Etsy and Bigcommerce, but it's unclear whether those will hold up after the acquisition closes.

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