US-based supermarket chain Walmart has entered a strategic alliance with Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten to leverage each company’s assets to widen consumer reach and provide an enhanced service in Japan and the US.

The alliance includes the introduction of a new online grocery delivery service in Japan in the third quarter of 2018.

To be known as Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper, the online grocery delivery service will aim at increasing fulfilment capacity, enriching the merchandise offering and improving convenience for customers.

“Rakuten and Walmart are uniquely positioned to empower our customers around the world with innovative services.”

The service will open a dedicated fulfilment centre besides offering deliveries from stores of Seiyu, which is a unit of Walmart.

Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper will offer its customers products such as fresh produce, daily consumables, and convenience items such as partially prepared foods and ready-meal kits.

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

“Here in Japan and everywhere we operate, we’re constantly exploring new ways to make every day easier for customers by offering great experiences in stores, online, via mobile – no matter how customers want to shop.

“We look forward to expanding our grocery footprint in Japan and launching a new offering of e-books and audiobooks for our customers in the US.”

Rakuten chairman, president and CEO Hiroshi 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.

“We are excited to partner with Walmart because of its commitment to creating the best solutions to serve customers with low prices.”

Walmart has also formed an exclusive retail alliance which will enable the supermarket chain to sell e-books and audiobooks, as well as offer Rakuten Kobo eReaders in Walmart stores and online at in the US later this year.