Amazon.com Inc said on Monday it agreed to buy Kiva Systems Inc for $775 million in cash, a deal that will bring more robotic technology to the e-commerce company's giant network of warehouses.
The acquisition, which has been approved by Kiva's stockholders, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012, Amazon added in a statement.
Kiva develops robots that zip around warehouses, grabbing and moving shelves and crates full of products. The technology helps retailers fulfill online orders quickly and with fewer workers. Companies including Gap Inc, Staples Inc and Crate & Barrel, have used the technology.
Amazon has traditionally used more employees in its warehouses, or fulfillment centers as they are known. However, Kiva's robots have been used by other e-commerce companies which have been acquired by Amazon in recent years, such as Quidsi and Zappos.
"This is a way to improve efficiency," said Scott Tilghman, an analyst at Caris & Company. "Given the scale of Amazon's operations, it makes sense to have this capability in house."
Fulfillment centers are crucial to Amazon's main online retail business. But the company also offers fulfillment services to other merchants, making the warehouses even more important.
"Amazon has long used automation in its fulfillment centers, and Kiva's technology is another way to improve productivity by bringing the products directly to employees to pick, pack and stow," said Dave Clark, vice president, global customer fulfillment, at Amazon.com.