I have run into a few people who were pumped up to use Kiva Systems in areas other than warehousing. But, after an inquiry for information went unanswered and no ability to contact a sales person I found it is highly probably that Kiva Systems is for internal Amazon use for new growth and the installed base is in maintenance mode. The Boston Globe reported on the current state of things at Kiva System back in Dec 2013.
But the impression is that Kiva’s interest in selling to non-Amazon customers has waned. The company hasn’t announced a new customer since it became part of Amazon, and much of its sales staff has departed. The company continues to hire — but in departments like engineering and manufacturing, not sales or marketing. It could be that satisfying Amazon’s appetite for Kiva bots is consuming most of the company’s resources.
Many of amazon.com competitors have walked into the trap of being single sourced, a no-no for anyone in supply chain management.
But as Kiva ramps up production of its robotic systems for its new parent — the number on order from Amazon may be as high as 18,000, according to one trade publication, and could be higher according to my sources — the big question is what happens to Kiva’s early customers. Major retailers such asStaples, Walgreens, Gap, Office Depot, and Crate & Barrel installed Kiva’s technology in their warehouses. And now they all must grapple not only with possible shortages of Kiva bots, but also whether they want to do business with a direct competitor.
So, if you were thinking of using Kiva Systems you may be best looking for other options, like the above installed base.
I did talk to one Kiva customer, only on the condition that I not use his name or company. He said Amazon would continue to support the systems he’d installed for several years, but added, “I’m planning now for life without Kiva.”