By the end of the year Asda’s online service will cover 60% of the UK, compared with 30% in autumn 2004.
A new entertainment website to increase non-food sales was also launched this week. The site offers more than 140,000 cut-price CDs, DVDs and video games, sold from tax-haven Jersey.
Another £3.5m has been invested over the past six months to open up an extra 7,000 delivery slots. A spokesman said: “There is tremendous demand for our online service but so far customers have been frustrated that they can’t always get access. But this is a very significant roll-out and more and more customers will be able to sign up.”
He admitted that when asda.com was first launched the format had problems, but said improvements had been made and latest customer feedback showed 97% satisfaction.
Asda will raise its delivery charges to £4.95 on June 6, but will be offering a £1 discount on Tuesdays and Wednesday until August. Tesco’s delivery charges range from £3.99 to £5.99 at
different times of the week. At the same time Asda shoppers who responded to a recent online satisfaction survey are being offered one delivery for free as part of the promotional push for the service.
Tesco has 96% UK coverage for its online offering and has been making good use of the VAT loophole to sell non-foods from Jersey below mainland prices since December.
Goods from Jersey valued under £18 can currently be sold duty-free. But the Treasury could soon put a stop to the practice.
A Treasury spokesman said: “The government is committed to address any arrangement set up artificially with the objective of avoiding paying a fair share of tax. We are aware that businesses locate offshore and sell goods and services to UK customers. Goods imported into the UK are generally chargeable with VAT.
“The rules are complex and vary depending on the nature and value of the supply. We keep the matter under review.”