Walmart has partnered with Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten to launch a new online grocery delivery service in the country this year.
The move by Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, will also see it sell e-books and audiobooks in its US stores and online as it aims to gain foothold in an area that has been dominated by Amazon.
As part of the alliance, Walmart will become the exclusive retail partner of Rakuten Kobo in the US, enabling it to offer Kobo’s nearly 6 million book titles. The retail giant will also sell digital book cards in stores, enabling more than 4,000 shops to carry a broader selection of books for customers. All e-book content will be accessible through a Walmart/Kobo co-branded app.
Meanwhile, in Japan, Rakuten and Walmart subsidiary Seiyu GK have reached an agreement to establish a joint venture with the aim of launching a new online grocery delivery service to be called Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper. It will be launched in the latter half of 2018.
Both companies said that to respond to the needs of customers increasingly short on time for preparation, the service will include not only fresh produce and daily consumables but also a line-up of convenient items such as cut vegetables, partially prepared foods and meal kits.
Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon and Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani met in Tokyo today to announce the alliance that aims to leverage each company’s unique strengths and assets to expand consumer reach.
McMillon said: “Rakuten is a strong e-commerce business and we’re excited to collaborate with the top online shopping destination in Japan. Here in Japan and everywhere we operate, we’re constantly exploring new ways to make every day easier for customers by offering great experiences in stores, online, via mobile – no matter how customers want to shop. We look forward to expanding our grocery footprint in Japan and launching a new offering of e-books and audiobooks for our customers in the US. ”
Mikitani added: “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. We are excited to partner with Walmart because of its commitment to creating the best solutions to serve customers with low prices.”
Speaking of the US e-book service, Rakuten Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn said: “Walmart is one of the top retailers in the world and one of the largest booksellers in the US. Our strategy from day one has been to partner with the world’s best retailers, so that they can easily offer their customers the option of reading digitally.
“This informs the software and devices we create, the books and authors we promote, and also the partnerships we build. For us, this is another great opportunity to serve book lovers at Walmart, those people who make reading an important part of their lives.”
Last year, Walmart announced plans to build a new headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, as it faces increasing competition from online retailers like Alibaba and Amazon.
Earlier this week, Amazon opened its first checkout-free supermarket as it continues to disrupt the brick and mortar retail sector.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019