Walmart and Rakuten to Take on Amazon

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Walmart acquired online retailer Jet.com and announced free same-day shipping in NY, and partnered with Deliv to offer same-day grocery delivery services in San Jose, California. Chairman, president and CEO Hiroshi "Mickey" Mikitani met in Tokyo today to announce a new strategic alliance that leverages each company's unique strengths and assets to expand consumer reach and enhance how customers are served in Japan and the U.S.

The new service will change Walmart's current online grocery delivery offering in Japan and will be known as "Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper".

All eBook content will be accessible through a Walmart/Kobo co-branded app on all iOS and Android devices, a desktop app and Kobo eReaders (which we'll offer online and in stores later this year). "We look forward to expanding our grocery footprint in Japan and launching a new offering of eBooks and audiobooks for our customers in the United States", said Wal-Mart Stores chief executive Doug McMillon.

At Walmart, we want to be the destination for customers no matter how they want to shop, and no matter what they want to shop for, which includes adding new categories, products and brands.

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

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This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the US print edition of The Wall Street Journal (January 26, 2018). Walmart will be Kobo's "exclusive" U.S. 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. Walmart.com will offer eBooks and audiobooks for sale later this year. In 2016, Japan was the second-largest market outside the US for Amazon, following Germany, with sales of $10.8 billion.

The most interesting facet of the alliance however, from a US market perspective at least, is that Rakuten will leverage Walmart to help sell its Kobo ereaders. Kobo already has apps across these platforms, but it seems the two companies will make new apps for Walmart customers in the U.S. to use.

But by many measures, Walmart is arriving late to the digital book party.

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. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006).

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