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Walmart and Rakuten form strategic alliance

In Tokyo today, Walmart president/CEO Doug McMillon and Rakuten chairman/president/CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani announced a strategic alliance aimed at expanding consumer reach and enhancing customer service.

Included in the collaboration is the launch of an online grocery delivery service in Japan as well as an exclusive retail alliance between the US retail giant and e-reading service Rakuten Kobo. This will enable Walmart to sell e-books and audiobooks, as well as offer Rakuten Kobo e-readers in stores and online in the US.

“We’re excited to collaborate with the top online shopping destination in Japan,” says McMillon.

“We look forward to expanding our grocery footprint in Japan and launching eBooks and audiobooks for our customers in the US.”

Rakuten and Seiyu GK, a Walmart subsidiary, have reached a basic agreement to establish a JV to launch a delivery service for online grocery shoppers in Japan, to be known as Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper and planned to start late this year. With the aim of increasing fulfillment capacity, enriching the merchandise offering and improving customer convenience, the service will establish a fulfilment centre this year as well as offering deliveries from Seiyu stores.

The service’s merchandise offering will showcase Seiyu’s twin strengths of “quality” and
“low prices”. It will include not only fresh produce and daily consumables, but also convenience items such as cut vegetables, partially prepared foods and ready-meal kits, as well as local gourmet products from Rakuten Ichiba marketplace merchants.

An optimised user experience will be offered, with more personalisation enabled by big data and AI. Customers will be able to earn and use Rakuten Super Points on more than 70 services.

Meanwhile, Walmart will become Rakuten Kobo’s exclusive mass retail partner in the US, offering nearly 6 million titles from thousands of publishers and hundreds of thousands of authors. Walmart will also sell digital book cards in more than 4000 stores.

All e-book content will be accessible through a Walmart/Kobo co-branded app for Android and iOS devices, a desktop app and Kobo e-Readers, which will also be sold at

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