Kobo and Walmart in e-reader alliance against Amazon

27 January, 2018, 10:03 | Author: Kristopher Anderson
  • REUTERS  Ricardo Moraes- RC1845D40460

Walmart and Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten today announced a wide-reaching strategic partnership created to push each other's products and services in Japan and the U.S.

Amazon now commands 83% of the ebook market in the US.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. president and CEO Doug McMillon and Rakuten, Inc. The two companies hope that the new "Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper" venture can capitalize on rising demand for online grocery deliveries in Japan, a trend being fueled by working couples in their 30s and 40s.

The deal "enables us to quickly and efficiently launch a full eBook and audiobook catalog on Walmart.com", Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer for Wal-Mart's USA e-commerce unit, wrote in a blog post Thursday.

Today, we announced a strategic alliance with Rakuten, the number one e-commerce company in Japan.

Walmart sold its own website to JD.com, the second largest Chinese online retailer, and picked up a five per cent stake in JD.com instead.

"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.", he added.

The delivery service will be offered through Walmart's Japanese subsidiary, Seiyu.

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Walmart has strengthened its foothold in Japan after striking a deal with ecommerce retailer Rakuten to launch an online delivery service in the country.

Mikitani said, "As global leaders in e-commerce and offline shopping, Rakuten and Walmart are uniquely positioned to empower our customers around the world with innovative services".

The business is also to boost capacity by opening a dedicated grocery fulfillment center this year, they said.

This tie-up represents a pretty clear challenge to Amazon, both in the USA and in Japan.

The new service will be powered by Rakuten technology, using artificial intelligence "to offer a more personalized merchandise offering", according to the statement. "I'm not sure how Kobo will fare in the U.S.", Sato said.

The eBook and audiobook offering will be fully integrated into the Walmart online shopping experience, and customers will be able to buy these versions as well as the physical book while shopping for their favorite titles. Walmart will be Kobo's "exclusive" United States partner, meaning it will be the biggest retailer to sell Kobo e-readers in the country, along with access to its library of over six million e-books.

As part of the deal, Walmart will start selling Aura-branded ereaders made by Kobo, a division of Rakuten, in stores and online at Walmart.com.

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