Kobo and Walmart in e-reader alliance against Amazon
27 January 2018, 10:01 | Santos Harmon
Walmart Makes a Late Entry Into the E-Book Market
Additionally, a new Walmart/Kobo cobranded ebook app will be roll out for smartphones, tablets, and PCs. That is likely to boost Kobo's tiny share of the USA e-books market share and turn it into a serious contender. Now, it's entering into an alliance with Walmart. It will kick off in the latter half of 2018, and will replace Walmart's existing online grocery delivery offering in Japan.
"We are adding an entirely new category to our USA assortment-e-books and audiobooks".
The partnership aims to leverage the unique strengths and assets of the two firms "to expand consumer reach and enhance how customers are served in Japan and the USA", according to a press release Thursday.
The deal "enables us to quickly and efficiently launch a full eBook and audiobook catalog on Walmart.com", Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer for Wal-Mart's USA e-commerce unit, wrote in a blog post Thursday.
"Rakuten is a strong e-commerce business and we're excited to collaborate with the top online shopping destination in Japan", Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon said.
"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", said Rakuten's CEO Hiroshi Mikitani.
As part of the deal, Walmart and Rakuten will launch a new online grocery delivery service in Japan via Walmart's local Seiyu GK subsidiary.
Now Walmart aims to challenge that, with Rakuten's help.
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The plan is to increase capacity by establishing a dedicated fulfillment center.
Wal-Mart is not the only big name USA company looking for partners in Asia, as it emerged Thursday that grocery giant Kroger (KR) and Chinese e-commerce heavyweight Alibaba (BABA) have recently chatted about potentially working together.
The new service will be powered by Rakuten technology, using artificial intelligence "to offer a more personalized merchandise offering", according to the statement.
Customers of the new venture - to be called Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper - will be able to accumulate points on Rakuten's loyalty program, which can be used on any of Rakuten's services.
There's no official launch date for the Walmart-Kobo partnership, and we don't yet know whether it will be offering a subscription model, but we expect to see ebook readers on shelves later this year. Walmart, as odd as it may seem at first blush, announced today that it will begin offering ebooks in the U.S. as well.
Kobo was created in Canada and acquired in 2011 by Rakuten.
The move is the latest step that Walmart is taking to compete with Amazon. Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008).
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999.
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