Asda is trialling seven-day ordering in a bid to further improve availability.

The retailer currently places orders with suppliers five to six days a week but is hoping that by spreading orders over the weekend it will more "closely align supply with demand", said supply chain director Gavin Chappell. The move involves upgrading systems that currently need one day a week to back up data and record financial information.

The move is part of a wider Asda initiative to improve availability that began in 2008. In The Grocer 33 full-year review last June, Asda was worst for availability, at 96.23%. But by December, Asda had leapt to number one, with 97.9%. This improvement was a result of a two-pronged programme, it claimed.

Initially, the retailer simplified a "hideously complex" process of ordering, said retail operations director Mark Ibbotson. It then worked with consultancy Retail Insights on a tool to allow stores to monitor their own availability and compare it with other local Asdas.

The previous system was inaccurate and not trusted by store managers, but the new system had introduced rivalry between stores, he said. "It gave stores the ability to look right across their store and division and we were able to tell who was performing the process and who wasn't," he said.

The system was being further improved, added Ibbotson, and a real-time system would be trialled towards the end of 2010 before being gradually rolled out in each category. "We would like to know immediately when a product goes out of stock," he said.