- Shopify announced it has acquired privately-held product design and development firm Boltmade to speed the evolution of its Shopify Plus product.
- Shopify and Boltmade have been working together on a project since earlier this year. Boltmade boasts a customer list that also includes messaging firm Kik, Xerox’s Parc and others. Its entire 21-person staff will join Shopify's existing office in Waterloo, Ontario.
- Shopify describes Shopify Plus as a platform for "high growth" customers, with premium features like dedicated account management personnel and customizable checkout processes. Customers such as Reddit, Wikipedia, Tesla and the World Wildlife Fund already use Shopify Plus.
This looks like a move by Shopify to beef up an existing offering that is proving popular with some very big customers by infusing it with some new engineering talent and energy, a tactic similar in some ways to Shopify's 2013 acquisition of design agency Jet Cooper.
There is a lot of pressure on Shopify to continue innovating, as competitors such as Demandware, BigCommerce and WooCommerce (and even Amazon and eBay, to some degree) are doing the same. BigCommerce recently unveiled new tools to help merchants leverage Faceboook's advertising features and capabilities, for example.
The market for platforms enabling retailers' e-commerce dreams to take flight is changing fairly quickly, and quite a bit through acquisition. In June, Salesforce, knowing a healthy market opportunity when it saw one, acquired Demandware for $2.8 billion, and last week, it turned out its first major offering following the deal, the CloudCommerce platform. In other sector deals, WooCommerce last year was acquired by Automattic, parent company of WordPress.com, and BigCommerce landed checkout software company Zing.
The e-commerce platform market is defined by how well these companies can support their merchant companies to improve sales, enable better customer interactions and manage various aspects of overall e-commerce operations. The innovations must keep coming, and for companies under a great deal of competitive pressure, acquiring small, focused and talented teams may be the best way of doing that.