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Walmart Makes a Late Entry Into the E-Book Market

Walmart Makes a Late Entry Into the E-Book Market

Walmart Makes a Late Entry Into the E-Book Market

"Working with Rakuten Kobo enables us to quickly and efficiently launch a full e-book and audiobook catalog on Walmart.com to provide our customers with additional choices alongside our assortment of physical books", Walmart's Chief Revenue Officer in e-commerce division in the U.S., Scott Hilton, said.

Rakuten went up against Amazon and eBay after it acquired Buy.com, and while it attracted third-party merchants, it struggled to attract name recognition among United States shoppers.

Wal-Mart has expanded its USA e-commerce sales in recent quarters after rolling out online grocery services and buying a string of online startups, including Jet.com Inc.in 2016, placing the site's founder Marc Lore at the head of US e-commerce operations.

As part of the deal, Walmart said, it is also joining forces with Rakuten to expand its online grocery business in Japan.

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.

Customers will be able to shop for e-books and audiobooks on Walmart's website, and the retailer will sell e-readers in its stores and online.

In Japan, Walmart and Rakuten will launch a grocery delivery service.

"We look forward to expanding our grocery footprint in Japan and launching a new offering of eBooks and audiobooks for our customers in the USA", he added.

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Mikitani 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". "This informs the software and devices we create, the books and authors we promote, and also the partnerships we build".

Walmart said that the service will start in the second half of 2018. Walmart's US online sales rose 50% in its most recent full quarter.

Now Walmart aims to challenge that, with Rakuten's help.

The new service will be powered by Rakuten technology, using artificial intelligence "to offer a more personalized merchandise offering", according to the statement.

The Rakuten partnership will also see Walmart selling 6 million e-books and audiobooks offered by Kobo, Rakuten's subsidiary, on its US stores, giving the retailer a grip on what has traditionally been a market led by Amazon.

"Walmart is one of the top retailers in the world and one of the largest booksellers in the U.S. Our strategy from day one has been to partner with the world's best retailers, so that they can easily offer their customers the option of reading digitally".

The collaboration would bring Rakuten's Kobo device and e-book catalog to Walmart's USA stores later this year, the companies said in a statement on Thursday. Walmart also plans to sell "e-book cards" in its stores, which seem to be physical cards customers can buy while shopping at a Walmart store that contain a download code for access to an e-book or audiobook after they leave the store.

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