Morrisons has hired a digital big-hitter to propel the marketing of its online grocery which launches in January.

The grocer has hired former eBay and Sainsbury’s executive Amanda Metcalfe as its first digital marketing director, Retail Week can reveal.

Metcalfe, who joined the retailer this month, has substantial online retail experience. She was most recently marketing director at eBay and has held equivalent roles at etailers Cocosa and and was head of online marketing at Sainsbury’s.

She has also worked for Debenhams, Laura Ashley and Selfridges. She will report to group marketing and customer director Nick Collard and online food managing director Simon Thompson.

Metcalfe’s appointment comes as Morrisons reveals its plans for its long-awaited online food debut which follows the distribution partnership it inked with Ocado in May. will begin delivering in Warwickshire on January 10 before reaching West Yorkshire in February and London and south Yorkshire next summer.

Morrisons aims to offer high quality fresh food at affordable prices with a focus on strong service. The retailer aims to simplify the decision-making process for shoppers studying delivery charges with £1, £3 and £5 round pound pricing.

At a presentation on the new service last week, chief executive Dalton Philips said: “Our competitors have been online for some time and we recognise we are late to the party but I’m confident we can make quite an impact.”

Barclays analyst James Anstead said: “There is always a degree of operational risk with a major launch like this – and will come under a great deal of scrutiny – but we believe that Ocado will be extremely motivated to make Morrison’s launch a success since the partnership is likely to be studied by potential future international partners for Ocado.

“Overall we were positively surprised at the extent to which Morrison is trying to approach online in a different way.”

It is understood Metcalfe was placed by Princedale Partners. Morrisons confirmed her appointment.