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#RetailEXPO19 Asda drives community engagement to know customers better

By Kathy Oxtoby

Fighting child poverty, mystery shopping, and helping shoppers to save money and live better, are just some of the ways Asda is connecting with customers and communities.

Speaking to delegates at RetailEXPO about why customer experience is key to retail success, Andy Murray, chief customer officer for Asda, said that these initiatives formed part of a “compelling quest” to take the shopper’s journey forward.

“Understanding who the customer is crosses the whole organisation,” he said. However, he said trying to pinpoint the customer experience was “elusive” and like “chasing an ever changing idea”.

Challenges to identifying the customer at Asda included “not having a history of analytics”, and that technology teams were focused on “ecommerce or productivity improvements”, he said.

A “customer centric culture is embedded into the organisation’s DNA”, he said. However staff can still become “desensitised and exhausted with the challenges” of meeting customer expectations. “It’s hard not to get cynical”, he said.

Added to these challenges of improving the customer experience is the scale of the organisation – Murray has 146,000 colleagues at Asda, which has 633 stores, with 18m customers a week.

To get a fuller picture about customer experiences, during the past three years Asda has been looking at gaining a better understanding about who its customers are, and the key stages of their shopping journey. Asda has also identified that an “easy, fast and friendly service”, is a priority for customers.

Mr Murray said Asda is “working hard” on new initiatives designed to engage customers in a “compelling way”. This has included working with foodbank charity the Trussell Trust and FareShare, the UK’s largest charity tackling food hunger and waste, to establish the ‘Fight Hunger Create Change’ programme, launched February 2018.

By the end of the three-year programme, Asda will have donated over £20 million to the two charities, enabling them to develop their infrastructure and services so that they can collect, transport and store fresh food in foodbanks. It will also have given 500,000 vulnerable people access to fresh food every year.

Asda has also set up an ‘innovation laboratory’ made up of college graduates who are focused on developing new ideas for the business.

With these and other future initiatives, Mr Murray says Asda’s “total company effort”, will “turn the journey into a compelling quest with both customers and staff”.