Walmart partnership boosts global presence

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Walmart partnership boosts global presence

By Marianne Wilson - 01/29/2018
Walmart is teaming up with the largest e-commerce company in Japan in a deal that will strengthen its efforts to compete with Amazon both in Asia and the United States.

The nation’s largest retailer has entered into a strategic partnership with Tokyo-based Rakuten in a collaboration that includes the launch of an online grocery delivery service in Japan. The service, to be operated by Walmart’s Japanese unit, Seiyu GK, and Rakuten, will be called “Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper.” It will kick off in the latter half of 2018, and will replace Walmart’s existing online grocery delivery offering in Japan.

In addition, the partnership will enable Walmart to sell eBooks, audiobooks, and eReaders from Rakuten Kobo in its stores and online in the United States. Starting later this year, Walmart will sell digital book cards in stores, enabling more than 4,000 stores to carry a broader selection of books for customers. Owned by Rakuten, Toronto-based Kobo offers nearly 6 million eBooks and audiobooks to customers in 190 countries.

“Rakuten is a strong e-commerce business and we’re excited to collaborate with the top online shopping destination in Japan,” said Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon. “We look forward to expanding our grocery footprint in Japan and launching a new offering of eBooks and audiobooks for our customers in the U.S.”

The e-book alliance with Kobo will give Walmart entry into a category that is largely dominated in the United States by rival Amazon. Walmart and Kobo will also release a co-branded Walmart/Kobo e-reading app for iOS and Android as an alternative to Amazon’s Kindle app, as well as a desktop app.

“We are adding an entirely new category to our U.S. assortment—e-books and audiobooks. … ,” Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer, Walmart U.S. e-commerce business, said in a blog post. “We have long been a destination for entertainment including digital content – whether movies through VUDU or the digital game cards we sell in our stores. eBooks and audiobooks are a great addition to our assortment. Working with Rakuten Kobo enables us to quickly and efficiently launch a full eBook and audiobook catalog on to provide our customers with additional choices alongside our assortment of physical books.”