Asda is launching a customer insight engine on its website that will allow Asda to target online shoppers with personalised offers for the first time.

Asda’s home shopping director Kieran Shanahan said the new engine, which goes live in two weeks, would give Asda increasingly detailed information about its shoppers.

“We need to go beyond knowing whether the customer has a pet - we need to know whether they have a cat or a dog,” said Shanahan. “We know they have children, but we want to know how many kids they have, how old they are, and whether they are boys or girls. This new technology will enable us to really personalise the customer experience and tailor offers to our customers.”

Shanahan said the engine has been running in the background on Asda’s website for four months, “listening” to what its customers were buying. It was developed after Asda’s parent company Walmart set up a base in Silicon Valley and worked with programmers from outside retail to bring fresh thinking to the sector.

“We had to look outside retail because we didn’t have all the answers,” Shanahan said. “Walmart has been working with specialists in algorithms, big data, social media and mobile who are at the cutting edge of e-commerce.”

He said that Asda was still keeping the customer at the heart of its online strategy.

“We keep asking customers how they want us to serve them, because they decide our priorities for us,” he said. “These developments are exciting, but it’s vital to make sure it is what the customer wants. All the apps in the world can’t make up for a late delivery.”

Shanahan added that Asda was rolling out click and collect points to 100 stores after a successful trial at six stores during the summer.