Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco are all ramping up their grocery websites in an attempt to make them more interactive for customers. Sainsbury’s seems to have the edge, but what will its rivals do to catch up?

The latest supermarket war looks set to be played out online. And it looks like it will be a war of innovation.

This week Sainsbury’s launched a new section on its website called Trynation. The section will feature step-by-step video recipes with a team of Sainsbury’s staff – called the Try Team. Recipes featured will be from the Jamie Oliver TV ads and those from the recipe tip cards that are available in stores.

Sainsbury’s probably has a head start over the other grocers in terms of recipes because of its tie-up with Jamie Oliver. The celebrity chef’s cook books are incredibly popular in themselves but become more so when he does a TV programme showing exactly how to cook the dishes in the book.

Oliver will feature in the Trynation section and this could give the grocer a further pull. As shoppers cook more from scratch they are increasingly looking for ideas for quick meals and the grocer expects to print almost 75 million tip cards this year.

The other grocers are also investing heavily in their online strategies. Asda was quick to take advantage of the You Tube phenomenon and launched a dedicated channel, called Saving You Money TV, where shoppers can send in and share money saving tips. This will form part of a bigger social networking idea for Asda, which it is currently working on.

Tesco too is revamping its grocery website this autumn. While plans are under wraps at the moment, it is expected that it will include features such as recipe searches where shoppers can place all the ingredients they need for a particular dish in their online shopping basket at once.

What Tesco and Asda don’t have though is that one big idea to tie everything together. Sainsbury’s has its “Feed your family for a fiver” campaign and its resonance has become so powerful that anything the grocer does online can fall beneath that.

There have been several attempts from the other grocers to copy “Feed your family for a fiver” but with Sainsbury’s being the first, and being quick to make it omnipresent, it has fought off rivals.

Asda has always been known for its value proposition but it can’t rely on that solely to drive customer interaction on its website. Asda’s customers, like all shoppers, are looking for ideas on how best to feed their families and if they associate Asda just with being low-priced, they may well turn to Sainsbury’s for ideas first and then could be persuaded to shop with them.

The same can be said for Tesco. It has battled with Asda for the value badge and then took on the hard discounters with its campaign to become Britain’s biggest discounter. It isn’t viewed as a place where you can get new ideas in food.

If Sainsbury’s gets the technology right, it can push ahead with online customer interaction. But I’m sure its rivals won’t be far behind and must already be planning their next big idea.