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Shopify says fulfillment network handled record volumes during holidays

Canadian e-commerce firm not ready to challenge Amazon on fulfillment — yet

Shopify’s (NYSE:SHOP) U.S.-based fulfillment network handled a record volume during the holiday season, the Canadian e-commerce company said on Wednesday as it reported record fourth-quarter financial results

The company offered no details about how many shipments the Shopify Fulfillment Network handled or the impact on its financial performance. The network, launched in 2019, uses automated warehousing technology to allow merchants to manage inventory off-site and ship orders in direct competition with Amazon. 

Shopify also revealed that it shipped its first kit to allow merchants to onboard themselves onto the fulfillment network. The self-onboarding may allow Shopify to eventually rapidly scale the platform.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated the growth of Shopify’s underlying business: providing e-commerce platforms for retailers. Revenue for the fourth quarter increased by 94% to $977.7 million compared to a year earlier, while net income hit nearly $198.8 million, or $1.58 per share, versus $50 million a year ago.

The rollout of the e-commerce company’s fulfillment operation has been slow by design, according to executives. That strategy appears to remain in place in 2021. 

Chief Operating Officer Amy Shapero told financial analysts on Wednesday that the company is continuing “to focus first on quality and merchant delight before we scale our fulfillment capabilities.”

Key to Shopify’s fulfillment strategy: technology 6 River Systems, which it acquired in 2019. 6 River’s robot-enabled warehouse automation platform will allow Shopify to add third-party warehouses to its network.

6 River also made FreightWaves’ FreightTech 25 list in 2020, which recognizes the freight industry’s innovators and disruptors

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Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at