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Social media key to Asda growth strategy

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Supermarket Asda says a “world-class customer engagement programme” will underpin a growth strategy that includes wider multichannel buying choices. The plans are aimed at making it the UK market leader in general merchandise and number two in the food market.

Asda president and chief executive Andy Bond said: “Our aim is to become Britain’s favourite retailer across even more channels. That means extending our reach and helping customers order online, pick up in store or let us deliver to their door.” He added: “All of our businesses are supported by a world-class customer engagement program that is taking advantage of the rise in social media to enable us to get even closer to our customers.”

Growth will come as the number of Asda smaller food stores increases to 100 and Asda Living, non-food stores to 150. The 25th Asda Living store opens today in Telford, Shopshire. The company also revealed that’s home shopping service now serves 97% of the country. A second dedicated home shopping picking centre is to open in Enfield in July. The first is in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

The supermarket’s vision of its future was unveiled as it met the investment community at its head office yesterday.

Investors also learned that a Take Home Today service trialled at the company’s Bradford store, where customers can order goods normally stocked only in supercentres from any store, will be extended across the Asda network. Meanwhile Asda Direct, launched at the end of 2008, now allows customers to buy more than a million non-food items such as electricals and furniture online or over the phone.

Among UK supermarkets, Asda is now setting the pace with its use of social media. Election broadcasts from political leaders including Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are now online at its AsdaMums forum, where they sit alongside election blogs from Asda mums.

Our view: Asda was late to internet shopping, but is embracing it with the zeal of a convert and now boasts 97% coverage across the UK for its home shopping service. With its customer engagement strategy it’s challenging the established pioneers at Tesco while also introducing new and more flexible ways to shop. The competitive supermarket sector has led the way in multichannel retailing and it looks as if it may do the same with the mainstream use of social media by retailers.

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