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Walmart signs Japan online grocery deal with Rakuten

Billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani chairman and chief executive officer of Rakuten Inc. and representative director of the Japan Association of New Economy speaks at the opening of the New Economy Summit 2015 in Tokyo Japan on Tuesday

Amazon now commands 83% of the ebook market in the US. Now, it's entering into an alliance with Walmart. A report published past year by industry monitoring group Author Earnings estimated that 80% of spending on e-books in the USA goes through Amazon.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s (WMT) battle to claw back customers from Amazon.com Inc.

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 United States", according to a press release Thursday.

Walmart is challenging Amazon´s dominance as a retailer of e-books and audiobooks, launching itself into the segment for the first time.

"Rakuten is a strong e-commerce business and we're excited to collaborate with the top online shopping destination in Japan", said Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon.

Today, we announced a strategic alliance with Rakuten, the number one e-commerce company in Japan.

In addition to bringing ebooks to Walmart customers in the U.S., the companies will also jointly launch a grocery delivery service in Japan.

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

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

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The business is also to boost capacity by opening a dedicated grocery fulfillment center this year, they said.

The new service's merchandise offering will showcase Seiyu's twin strengths of "quality" and "low prices".

With some 5,000 retail stores across the US, this represents a major win for Rakuten as it looks to gain mindshare among USA consumers.

Furthermore, the new service will utilize Rakuten's deep expertise in e-commerce to offer a site with an optimized user experience, as well as leveraging big data and AI to offer a more personalized merchandise offering.

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.

Walmart is to become the exclusive retailer of the Kobo brand in the USA, and will begin offering Kobo's about 6 million e-book and audio book titles later this year. Walmart.com will offer eBooks and audiobooks for sale later this year.

As part of the duo's tie-up, Walmart will begin selling ebooks and audiobooks, in addition to Kobo ereaders which will go on sale in brick-and-mortar Walmart stores and through its online store.

Customers can access e-book content through a Walmart/Kobo co-branded mobile app, a desktop app and Kobo e-readers, which will also be sold at Walmart later this year, Walmart said. In 2016, Japan was the second-largest market outside the US for Amazon, following Germany, with sales of $10.8 billion.

But Walmart is showing up late to the e-book party. Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008).

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