Asda plans to unleash an army of technology boffins on its stores to transform the shopping experience - and drive its digital agenda.

Chief operating officer Judith McKenna told the IGD Convention this week that it was looking beyond traditional retail for ideas to “revolutionise” its stores.

Following Walmart’s decision to enlist the help of experts from Silicon Valley, Asda was looking to recruit more staff from technology backgrounds in the UK, she revealed. “We need talent that thinks differently, that thinks in terms of data, not products,” she said.

Asda wanted to transform digital interaction for customers and suppliers, she added, beginning this week with the rollout of free Wi-Fi. It would also introduce click & collect to 100 stores. “Our stores are going to be so much better,” she said. “This is going to take them to a whole new level.”

Reaching its key audience of mums on their smartphones was crucial, said McKenna, adding that Asda planned to “positively disrupt” the shopping experience with mobile apps to allow price comparison, personalised offers and free upgrades if items were unavailable.

Staff too were getting the hi-tech kit they needed, she said. All Asda managers had been issued with custom-built iPads featuring apps to monitor sales, availability and staff performance. This would save them nearly a day a week, she claimed.

Asda also planned to give suppliers access to “augmented reality” technology, which would allow them to remotely monitor the availability and merchandising of their products in store.

And it was prepared to co-operate with other retailers and suppliers to push the technology boundaries, claimed McKenna. “We might just have to help each other by sharing some of that knowledge,” she said.