Asda looks to stand out with same-day click & collect

UK supermarket Asda announced that it will be launching a same-day click & collect service at one of its northern stores this month, as the business looks to stand out from the crowd in the battle for grocery market share.

A lack of convenience stores in the UK means the nation's second largest grocer Asda is reliant on its delivery options as a point of difference, and the launch of the new speedier multichannel service at its Wakefield store in West Yorkshire is an example of the business using technology to appeal to customers.

Verdict Research's senior retail analyst Andrew Stevens told Essential Retail: "I don't know if there's a huge demand for same-day click & collect, but Asda wants to be ahead of the curve.

"It could be a case of innovation for innovation's sake, but Asda wants to be leading its rivals."

Elsewhere in the grocery sector, Tesco and Waitrose are looking into same-day delivery options – but Sainsbury's has gone on record saying that the service does not fit into its current strategy.

"The position of Asda's stores [with many on the outskirts of towns and cities] means same-day collection may appeal to workers who drive home, but I don't think today's announcement will spark an instant reaction from rival supermarkets – it's still very much a case of the unknown."

Essential Retail speculated last week that a same-day collection service at Asda was due to be announced, and today's update confirms that the Walmart-owned grocer has joined the likes of electricals giant Dixons Retail in reducing fulfilment time for online orders.

The supermarket group also confirmed that its multichannel formats remain central to its "clicks and bricks" strategy, and it aims to ramp up its investment in technology and infrastructure to serve the mobile customer. Interestingly, its same-day click & collect is free to use – something that industry experts believe is crucial for this type of service to become a key fulfilment option in the future.

As well as developments at its Wakefield store, Asda will be increasing its grocery shopping collection points to almost 250 sites by the end of 2013, and it expects to maximise its relationship with US parent company Walmart "to bring new in-store and technology innovations to the UK".

In July, the UK grocer started piloting new Rapid Scan Till technology from German solutions provider Wincor Nixdorf, which is aimed at speeding up the check-out process by utilising a 360 degree laser scanner. The payment system is also cashless, which the retailer hopes will get customers through the tills quicker.

Influences from the US may come in the form of a Scan & Go mobile app, which Walmart has been trialling in stores around the country. The technology allows customers to scan products with an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad during their journey around the store, before payment is made at a self-service terminal.

With Asda saying that it expects 75% of customers to shop through multiple channels this Christmas, it will arguably be personal tech systems such as these that help the retailer achieve its targets.

Speaking at a quarterly results briefing on Thursday, President and CEO of Asda Andy Clarke said: "Our focus on opening up more ways for more customers to shop with us, particularly in areas currently underserved by Asda, provides us with real opportunity to grow space and channels to adapt our business to today's customer."

Asda revealed that like-for-like sales at the business grew 0.7% year on year for the 12 weeks to 5 July 2013.