Walmart subsidiary Seiyu GK will create a new online grocery delivery service in Japan which will be known as "Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper".
"Working with Rakuten Kobo enables us to quickly and efficiently launch a full e-book and audiobook catalog on Walmart.com to provide our customers with additional choices alongside our assortment of physical books", Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer at Walmart's USA e-commerce division, wrote in a company blog post. "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 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.
"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.
Walmart has strengthened its foothold in Japan after striking a deal with ecommerce retailer Rakuten to launch an online delivery service in the country.
Walmart hopes to tap into Rakuten's expertise in e-commerce as well as its big data and artificial intelligence capabilities.
Walmart said that the service will start in the second half of 2018.
Walmart made for a good partner because it provides scale, operational prowess and access to a large group of book customers, he said. To serve the needs of customers increasingly short on time for preparation, the service will include not only fresh produce and daily consumables but also a rich lineup of convenient items such as cut vegetables, partially-prepared foods and ready-meal kits, as well as popular local gourmet products from merchants on the Rakuten Ichiba marketplace.
The business is also to boost capacity by opening a dedicated grocery fulfillment center this year, they said.
There's no official launch date for the Walmart-Kobo partnership, and we don't yet know whether it will be offering a subscription model, but we expect to see ebook readers on shelves later this year. "I'm not sure how Kobo will fare in the U.S.", Sato said.
Kobo, a Canadian company that Rakuten bought in 2011, is a small player in the United States market.
Kobo e-readers and compatible e-books are mostly popular outside the USA in countries including Canada, the UK, France, Italy, and Australia.