Walmart signs Japan online grocery deal with Rakuten

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US retail giant Walmart will team up with Japan's Rakuten to launch a new online grocery delivery service.

Customers will place orders through Rakuten, which will then be fulfilled by the joint venture.

The operation - to launch later this year - will replace Walmart's existing online grocery delivery service in Japan.

As part of the deal, Rakuten subsidiary Kobo will sell e-books, audiobooks and e-readers through US Walmart stores.

The launch of the new e-commerce business is the US firm's latest attempt to crack a competitive overseas market, by teaming up with a popular local partner.

In 2016, it applied a similar strategy in China, selling its own website to the country's second largest online retailer in exchange for a 5% stake in the company.

Image source, Getty Images

Rakuten is Japan's largest e-commerce company, with around 14,000 employees.

It has expanded its business internationally through a string of acquisitions, including online retail, financial technology and telecommunications companies.

Walmart hopes to tap into Rakuten's expertise in e-commerce as well as its big data and artificial intelligence capabilities.

The partnership will also allow Walmart to sell a catalogue of six million e-books and audiobooks, giving the retailer a foothold in a market that has been dominated by rival Amazon.

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.