Asda ‘streamlines’ online presence as its shuts down Direct website

Asda is shutting down its Direct website as it looks to ‘streamline’ its digital presence and make shopping online ‘even easier’.

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Asda’s Direct website sells anything that isn’t food, fashion or home products, with products on offer ranging from books to kettles to garden furniture. Food is sold through a separate grocery website while George.com sells clothes and home furnishings.

From February, 80 per cent of the Direct range will be merged into its grocery and George stores with the aim of creating an experience for customers that “mirrors their weekly shop”. Large electrical and DIY items will no longer be sold online but will be available in store.

George.com will become Asda’s “online lifestyle store”, adding products including toys, garden furniture and baby goods to its catalogue. Asda says it also plans to expand its home and fashion ranges into new areas.

Asda is the second supermarket to simplify its digital presence after Sainsbury’s last month announced plans to roll its standalone non-food website into its grocery platform from November. Sainsbury’s also runs a separate digital entertainment site and a clothing website for its Tu range that is currently being piloted among a small number of customers in the East Midlands ahead of wider rollout.

Both moves are aimed at making shopping online and in-store more similar experiences. Asda says it wants shopping online to “mirror customers’ weekly shop”.

Asda chief executive Andy Clarke says: “We’re creating an online experience that logically fits with how our customers want to shop and focuses on the areas that our customers love. Ultimately, we want to give more people access to the price, quality and style that we are famous for.”

Asda is also hoping to boost online sales by launching the first fully automated click and collect points in the UK, having acquired the technology from a Dutch developer. The temperature-controlled “pods” will be installed on sites in London and the South East from early 2015.

The supermarket is also expanding the number of click and collect points by 50 per cent to 600 and increasing drive-through points to 200, while the number of sites that offer a same-day service will rise by 100 to 350.

The moves are part of Asda’s five-year strategy, announced in November last year, to become an “online leader”.

“In what is still a challenging market, I am delighted that we are able to make an investment that will not only step on delivery of our strategy, but also bring new and convenient ways for our customers to shop with us,” Clarke adds.

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