"We want to be the destination for customers no matter how they want to shop. which includes adding new categories, products and brands", Scott Hilton, the chief revenue officer of Walmart's USA e-commerce business, said in regard to Thursday's announcement.
"We have always been a destination for entertainment including digital content - whether movies through VUDU or the digital game cards we sell in our stores. eBooks and audiobooks are a great addition to our assortment", said Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer for Walmart U.S. eCommerce.
"We are excited to partner with Walmart because of its commitment to creating the best solutions to serve customers with low prices", Mikitani added.
Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, brings "incredible scale" to Kobo's book platform, he said.
Walmart has strengthened its foothold in Japan after striking a deal with ecommerce retailer Rakuten to launch an online delivery service in the country. The service will aim to increase capacity in 2018 with the establishment of a dedicated fulfilment center, in addition to offering deliveries from Seiyu stores.
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However, the 21-year-old company has little cachet outside its home market, so chief executive officer Hiroshi Mikitani has made investments overseas, with moves including a US$1 billion deal for online coupon service Ebates and a stake in ride-sharing service Lyft. Additionally, a new Walmart/Kobo cobranded ebook app will be roll out for smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Customers of this venture will also be able to collect points on their purchase which can then be used on other Rakuten services.
Walmart will also become Rakuten Kobo's exclusive mass retail partner for the Kobo e-book brand in the USA, offering Kobo's almost 6 million titles to Walmart.com customers. The full assortment of eBooks will be available on Walmart.com later this year, with audiobooks launching after that.
Rakuten Kobo's chief executive, Michael Tamblyn, said in an interview that the deal gave Kobo a vast new audience for its digital books through Walmart's website and eventually its stores, which sell print books.
"It's been a while since we've been active in the United States market", Rakuten Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn said in an interview. Soon after, Rakuten bought Kobo for $315 million. In Japan, Walmart has approximately 341 stores. 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 collection, already on Walmart.com, expands the retailer's furniture offerings under the Novogratz name.