Shopify is taking Kit, the virtual assistant it acquired last year and making it free to all members on its platform, as a basic part of their merchant services. That’s a big deal for the previously premium service, both in terms of how far it can reach, and in terms of what it can do for Shopify’s user base.
Kit bills itself as a “virtual employee” for Shopify merchants, which connects with their store, Facebook and various other customer vectors and can handle a lot of both inward and outward facing store and marketing management. There’s a skills library for the virtual assistant, which includes things like inventory management, dynamically adjusting Facebook ads, sending emails out to new customers, running reports on various aspects of a merchant’s shop and more, and all of this is controlled via Facebook Messenger, Telegram or SMS via a conversational interface.
Shopify says that Kit is already enjoying strong adoption, with 800 percent growth in adoption since it came in-house, and 5x more customers drive to merchant stores via Facebook ads thanks to Kit compared to the same volume of inbound when compared year over year. Now, the company is hoping even more merchants will be able to find out what Kit can do, since it’s dropping the price barrier entirely.
“When Shopify looked to acquire Kit and we started that conversation, the really interesting challenge in front of us was ‘Can we help somebody start their business, and have their first employee within five minutes?’,” explained Kit co-founder Michael Perry in an interview, noting that ultimately the goal in going free with the assistant is to contribute to Shopify’s core mission. “This is a very mission-driven decision; we have no intentions of Kit ever not being free or upselling people on things.”
Instead, Kit will look to the Skills marketplace for the assistant as a source of revenue, but focus on making its core features free and available to all. There are nearly 20 skills available at the moment, and Perry says that expanding that library considerably is a “big part” of the company’s roadmap for 2018.