Julian Hunt Asda stores are about to start hooking up to Wal-Mart's powerful Retail Link intranet information system. Andy Clarke, head of systems integration at the supermarket chain, said the technology would go live in one store in two weeks' time. The unnamed store has already been refitted with new hardware including checkouts, scanners and printers. Clarke said: "This will improve processes at the checkout ­ giving shoppers faster service." But shoppers should eventually start noticing another major benefit: better availability on key lines. The reason? The changes will allow the store to hook up to the Retail Link system in Bentonville, as well as a new replenishment system. Retail Link allows suppliers and buyers to access data about product sales, inventory information and shipping details. With its 101 terabyte data warehouse it is claimed to be far in advance of anything available in the UK. Clarke said Asda expected to have refitted and linked up all its stores by the end of the year ­ with the phase in for logistics due to be completed six months later. Asda House in Leeds is already using the system and this is where head office and store staff are being trained in how to use the technology. When fully up and running, the new IT systems will help Asda and its suppliers to better manage the supply chain. "Retail Link is widely used in the US and we have seen lots of suppliers come to talk to us before we were in a position to talk to them," said Clarke, who added: "The trading floor is now working actively with suppliers to use it." He said Asda and Wal-Mart had been working to align their systems from the early days of the merger. But he said: "We haven't taken Wal-Mart's systems off the shelf ­ we have have added some functionality and 60% of these enhancements have been rolled out back to the US for their food business." {{NEWS }}