Walmart to challenge Amazon e-book dominance

Posted January 29, 2018

Walmart announced as well another important partnership with Rakuten the parent company of Kobo and the largest online retailer in Japan.

The online grocery delivery service is set to launch later this year, replacing Wal-Mart's existing operation, Seiyu, which was rolled out by the USA retail giant in 2000 and now has more than 1.8 million users. A dedicated Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper fulfilment centre will also be created. The new service is slated to debut in the second half of the year. Customers using the service will be able to earn and use Rakuten Super Points, which they will also be able to use for more than 70 services within the Rakuten ecosystem. In addition to expanding the size of its grocery footprint in Japan, Wal-Mart will sell e-books, audiobooks, as well as Rakuten Kobo e-readers, in Wal-Mart stores and online later this year.

Walmart has joined forces with Japanese company Ratuken, owner of the Kobo ebook platform, to start selling ebooks, ereaders and audiobooks.

According to Walmart, "We have always been a destination for entertainment including digital content - whether movies through VUDU or the digital game cards we sell in our stores. eBooks and audiobooks are a great addition to our assortment".

While Rakuten has the chance to grow Kobo's relatively small United States footprint, Walmart has a better chance of challenging Amazon with this partnership than if the retail giant had attempted to enter the digital book space on its own.

Soon after, Rakuten bought Kobo for US$315 million. "For us, this is another great opportunity to serve book lovers at Walmart, those people who make reading an important part of their lives".

The collection, already on Walmart.com, expands the retailer's furniture offerings under the Novogratz name. Walmart operates about 341 stores in Japan. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity.

About Rakuten Rakuten, Inc.

The Associated Press reports the company is trimming jobs in its global business, finance, human resources, merchandise, real estate and technology divisions. Since 2012, Rakuten has ranked in the top 30 of Forbes Magazine's annual "World's Most Innovative Companies" list.

Rakuten has a total of 14,000 employees and is the biggest ecommerce firm in Japan.

In 2002, Walmart acquired a 6.1 percent stake in Seiyu, one of the largest supermarket chains in Japan.

Fresh food delivery has been around in Japan for decades but has lagged the growth seen in other areas of e-commerce.

About Rakuten Kobo Inc.