Sainsbury's puts heat on Asda by extending Brand Match online

UK supermarket Sainsbury's has today (Wednesday 19 August) extended its Brand Match scheme to online orders.

Price matching against thousands of items, the retailer says the initiative guarantees customers will not pay more for their online shop of identical branded groceries than they would at rival online grocery website

The online extension of Brand Match will give shoppers any difference in price back to the shopper as a coupon code, up to a maximum of £10, if a comparable branded grocery basket is cheaper at on the same day. To qualify, customers need to buy ten or more different items, including at least one comparable branded grocery item.

Sainsbury's launched its Brand Match scheme in stores back in 2011, but with the company now delivering an average of almost 215,000 online orders per week it has made the move to provide the service across channels.

Robbie Feather, director of online at Sainsbury's, who has recently been confirmed as a speaker for RBTE 2016, said: "With Brand Match now available online, customers can be reassured that we're checking prices and doing the maths for them, online as well as in-store. 

"We're committed to putting the customer at the heart of everything we do. Launching Brand Match online is part of the extensive work we've been doing to improve our website and our online service, being there for our customers whenever and wherever they want."

The move from Sainsbury's came on the same day that Asda, its closest UK competitor, reported a sales decline for its second quarter.

The Walmart-owned supermarket posted a 4.7% fall in like-for-like sales for the 11 weeks to 30 June, with Asda president and CEO Andy Clarke saying the numbers were "disappointing but in the short-term picture" and describing the current trading environment as "the worst storm in retail history".

"Predicting that 2015 was going to be a volatile year I didn't expect to report a positive sales figure, but I'm not distracted by the short-term picture," he added.

"We have an enviably stable business with balanced books and the right strategy to return us to sales growth."

In November 2013, Asda set out its six strategic priorities to redefine value retailing in the UK over a five-year period, which includes improving the supermarket's core business, extending its reach and expanding the brand into new markets. The strategy has involved investing in price cuts, design and giving more people the opportunity to shop with Asda through the physical development of stores and more convenient services such as click & collect.

Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb, commenting in his The Daily Retailer email, said: "The fact that Asda profits were solid in Q2, in contrast to the profit falls being suffered by its quoted peers, speaks well of cost control and gross margin management, with Walmart referring on their Q2 call to favourable mix shifts in Asda non-food."