Asda's late entry into on-line shopping needn't condemn it to playing second fiddle to Tesco, says market researcher Verdict. And non food could prove to be the key factor in the race for cybersupremacy, it says. Asda has announced plans to roll out Asda@Home inside the M25 corridor and to cover 60% of the population over the next two years. For the first time, customers can order online at rather than having to obtain a CD or use phone or fax. From January, the service will also be available on the Open channel on BskyB's digital satellite TV network. Goods will initially be picked from two existing picking centres at local stores but, assuming the service catches on, dedicated picking depots will be built to cope with the demand. A Tesco spokesman said Asda would suffer from leaving things late. "Online shoppers are loyal. Providing you don't do anything drastically wrong, they tend to stay put." covers 90% of the country and processes 60,000 orders a week. But Verdict's Sally Bain described online shoppers as the least loyal and the most demanding. "If Asda gets the delivery right, and provides value and differentiation, there is no reason why shoppers will not make the switch." The superior range (25,000 food products alone to Asda's 6,000 food and non-food lines) available via Tesco's site is not necessarily a huge advantage, she said. "People don't look to one site to fulfil all their needs. Choice is not the only driver," she said. Non food could well be the key to success. "Asda will make headway with tempting non-food offers," Bain said. - Asda's US parent relaunched its online store this week to criticisms that it was drab. Wal-Mart raised expectations of a radical make-over and covertly shut down operations to transfer inventory onto a new operating platform. {{NEWS }}