Asda is to take on Argos and Tesco Direct in the online sector later this year with a relaunch of its internet offer.
The retailer is hoping to make its entire store offer, except for George clothing, available on Asda.com by October. US parent company Wal-Mart has asked Asda to undertake the project, on the basis it will roll out the subsequent learnings globally.
"At the moment we have a website where you can buy flowers, some electrical goods and a few categories built through third parties," said Asda chief operating officer David Cheesewright. "We are now developing a fully integrated platform.
"We want to take our biggest store and put its full range of goods online. We will put the very best range on a very professional and easy-to-navigate application and deliver to home."
Asda will then expand the online offer further to include ranges not available to store shoppers.
The retailer was in a strong position to steal market share quickly because of Wal-Mart's strength in general merchandise, said Cheesewright. "Being part of Wal-Mart will give us a huge advantage in terms of scale and access to products. There will be three players in this market with more or less the same offering. Argos has first-mover advantage and Asda is universally known for best value. What is Tesco Direct's point of difference?"
Cheesewright admitted Asda would have to provide the same service level as Tesco Direct to win market share.
But he questioned Tesco's dominance of grocery in the long term. "There has always been someone struggling and that has helped Tesco, but there are no basket cases within the big four anymore. Pound for pound Tesco is probably the best business in the world, but going forward what does it stand for? As everyone catches up, it will be the brands with a clear proposition, such as Asda, Aldi, M&S and Waitrose, that will do well."
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