February 25, 2018

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Walmart inks e-commerce deal in Japan

29 January 2018

The companies said a joint venture would be established between Japan online grocery delivery service Rakuten and Seiyu GK, a subsidiary of Walmart.

As part of the alliance, Walmart will become the exclusive retail partner of Rakuten Kobo in the U.S., enabling it to offer Kobo's almost 6 million book titles. "At Wal-Mart, we want to be the destination for customers no matter how they want to shop, and no matter what they want to shop for, which includes adding new categories, products and brands", wrote Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer for Wal-Mart's U.S.

"Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove says the company is "restructuring and streamlining" its teams before its fiscal year ends next Wednesday". Soon after, Rakuten bought Kobo for $315 million. Japanese spent about $19 billion on food deliveries in the year ended March 2017, including orders made in person, over the phone or online, according to Yano Research Institute.

The deal with Rakuten, an e-commerce giant based in Japan, will allow Walmart to start selling digital books on its website for the first time later this year.

The collaboration will bring Rakuten's Kobo device and e-book catalog to Walmart's United States stores later this year, the companies said in a statement late Thursday. The company's legal name will become Walmart Inc., effective on February 1, 2018, to reflect its growing status as an omni-channel retailer.

Walmart operates 11,600 stores under almost 59 banners in 28 countries, and ecommerce websites in 11 countries. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting, on Facebook at and on Twitter at Founded in Toronto in 2009, it has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Rakuten Inc. since 2012. The business now has 30 million readers globally.

Rakuten is a household name in Japan, with 93 million registered members using its marketplace. Since 2012, Rakuten has ranked in the top 30 of Forbes Magazine's annual "World's Most Innovative Companies" list. For more information visit

Each company will draw on the other's strengths to better fulfil Japan's delivery needs.

Walmart already has an online grocery delivery operation in Japan. Owned by Rakuten, Toronto-based Kobo offers almost 6 million eBooks and audiobooks to customers in 190 countries. Rakuten, if you remember, snapped up Canadian Kindle-competitor Kobo in a $315 million deal back in 2011, before rebranding it as Rakuten Kobo a few years later.

Walmart inks e-commerce deal in Japan