Shopify expands access to its AI-powered features to attract more businesses

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Shopify is seen outside its headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, September 28, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

(Reuters) - Shopify made its artificial intelligence-powered tools, including the Sidekick assistant and image-generation feature, available to more users on Monday, in a bid to increase the appeal of its e-commerce platform and boost revenue growth.

Customers can now use its editing tool on their smartphones to enhance images used in promotional materials, including emails, the Canada-based firm said at its biannual products event. The feature was previously restricted to only editing product images online.

Shopify also expanded access to Sidekick, its chatbot that helps merchants with queries, including insights on customer behavior, that was in testing since last year with more than 2,000 users.

The company has released over 150 updates designed to create a more integrated platform to enable merchants to have a unified, seamless experience scaling their business, said Shopify President Harley Finkelstein.

The company had said last month it would invest in marketing after it forecast its slowest quarterly revenue growth in two years, which plummeted its stock to a six-month low and wiped off C$25.25 billion in market value on the day.

Growth at Shopify had boomed during the pandemic when the stay-at-home orders forced consumers to turn online, but high inflation and uncertain consumer spending in recent years have hit its main user base of small- and medium-sized businesses.

Its market capitalization has fallen by more than half from the peak in November 2021 to C$112.67 billion ($82.22 billion) at present.

Some analysts, however, see the recent weakness as a buying opportunity.

"SHOP's R&D investment dwarfs peers', culminating in an unrivaled array of features and capabilities that keep the company on the cutting edge," analysts at J.P.Morgan said, adding that the company has only penetrated 11% of its total serviceable market worth $60 billion.

($1 = 1.37 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar)

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