Walmart Teams Up With Rakuten To Offer eBooks, Audiobooks

Bill Rogers
January 29, 2018

The news comes just days after Google launched its own audiobook store, which puts it in direct competition with Amazon's Audible service.

The partnership aims to leverage the unique strengths and assets of the two firms "to expand consumer reach and enhance how customers are served in Japan and the U.S.", according to a press release Thursday.

The new online grocery delivery service, dubbed "Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper", will be more convenient for shoppers and offer an expanded assortment of items like meal kits and cut vegetables, the companies said.

At some point later this year, Walmart is going to start selling Kobo e-readers, ebooks and audiobooks across the US, as it looks to expand where to date it has only sold physical books, typically bestsellers in paperback, as well as a broader selection available online.

"We want to be the destination for customers no matter how they want to shop. which includes adding new categories, products and brands", Scott Hilton, the chief revenue officer of Walmart's USA e-commerce business, said in regard to Thursday's announcement.

In 2016, Walmart applied a similar strategy in China to that announced on Friday after struggling to grow its e-commerce business by itself. Walmart made for a good partner because it provides scale, operational prowess and access to a large group of book customers, he said.

Kobo is a Rakuten subsidiary.

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Both Walmart and Rakuten also said they will open a warehouse to service these orders in addition to using Seiyu stores. Founded in Toronto in 2009, it has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Rakuten Inc. since 2012.

Further, the new service will employ Rakuten's extensive ecommerce expertise to present a site with an optimized user experience, as well as leveraging Big Data and AI for a more personalized merchandise offering.

Walmart operates 11,600 stores under almost 59 banners in 28 countries, and ecommerce websites in 11 countries. (TSE: 4755) is a global leader in internet services that empower individuals, communities, businesses and society.

Rakuten is a household name in Japan, with 93 million registered members using its marketplace.

In 2002, Walmart acquired a 6.1 percent stake in Seiyu, one of the largest supermarket chains in Japan. Walmart offers delivery of online grocery orders in several countries including Britain, Canada, and Mexico.

About Rakuten Kobo Inc. Kobo's award-wining eReaders can be found in major retail chains around the world.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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