Asda is to launch a social networking website next week as part of its plan to become a more transparent business.
The Wal-Mart owned grocer will go live with its site, called Your Asda, on Monday. It will have its own URL as well as a link to the existing Asda.com site, and will provide several ways to enable customers to interact with the retailer and share their views.
The move is designed to increase customer interactivity and sales. A spokeswoman said: “We have many different ways of getting customer feedback but this is more instant and gives us another avenue of showing we are reacting to queries.”
She said it forms part of Asda’s “drive for transparency”, and “is a move towards Asda’s customers shaping the business”.
The site will comprise a blog called “We’re on the case” where customers can talk about specific queries, a “What’s hot and what’s not” element to give shoppers the chance to vote for specific products they want in their local store, a live Twitter feed, and photo gallery.
The grocer will also simultaneously launch a site for its staff, called The Green Room, which will be a public forum but be signposted for employees. It will allow staff to raise queries with head office, and also promote activities such as chief executive Andy Bond’s charity cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
Retailers have been making increasing moves towards transparency and embracing digital media. Carphone Warehouse last year started publishing all its complaints on its website in a process that Charles Dunstone dubbed “radical transparency”, while more recently retailers such as Asos and Waitrose have added interactive elements on their sites for information on products and to gain feedback.
The launch mirrors Wal-Mart’s increasing move towards opening up the business in the US. Wal-Mart international chief marketing officer Rick Bendel said last month that it will launch an initiative in autumn whereby customers can vote on which non-food products from China the retailer should place orders for. Customers will vote online and it will be used mostly for non-food products with long lead times in gift and clothing categories.
The Asda spokesman said the Wal-Mart initiative would be rolled out in the UK in the future.