Walmart partners with Rakuten for online groceries and ebooks

Walmart Black Friday
Walmart has announced a partnership with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, which will see the retail giant expand its operations in Japan and the U.S.

On the Japanese side of things, Walmart plans to use its partnership with Rakuten to expand its grocery footprint in the country. Walmart will begin offering online grocery service to Japan through its partnership with Rakuten.

Reuters reports that the new service will be named “Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper” and will replace Walmart’s existing online grocery service. It will allow customers to place their orders through Rakuten’s app, which will then be fulfilled by Walmart. In addition to using the existing Walmart’s existing Seiyu stores, it will build additional warehouses to help fulfill these orders.

Walmart is hoping that its partnership with Rakuten will allow it to expand into Japan’s growing online grocery market, which is less developed than it is in some other countries.

On the U.S. side of things, Walmart is taking advantage of Rakuten’s digital book service Kobo. Walmart will soon begin offering ebooks and audiobooks on its online store, allowing it to compete with the likes of Apple’s bookstore and Amazon’s Kindle.

According to Walmart’s blog, Kobo offers nearly six million books from thousands of different publishers, all of which will be available through Walmart’s website later this year. In addition to Kobo’s library of ebooks, of which Walmart will be one of the sole retailers, the company will also offer a selection of audiobooks. However, these will be arriving sometime after the ebooks.

The ebooks will be available via Walmart’s website, so consumers will have the option of purchasing a digital or hardcopy version while browsing the website.

Once purchased, the ebooks will be available on smartphones via an iOS and Android app. There will be a desktop version of the app as well. Walmart will also begin selling Kobo-branded eReaders later this year for those who want a dedicated device.

Walmart has said that it is positioning its upcoming catalog of ebooks as a supplement to its other digital content, such as movies and TV shows via Vudu or the time cards uses in MMOs such as World of Warcraft. 

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