Sainsbury’s this week locked horns with rivals Tesco and Asda as it launched its non-food online offer.

The grocer launched the offer – available at – initially stocking 4,500 products including furniture, toys, kitchenware and luggage.

The move will pit the grocer against Tesco and Asda. Tesco is significantly ahead of its rivals with its Tesco Direct operation, while Asda Direct launched online late last year.

70 per cent of the Sainsbury’s range is exclusive to online. Director of direct channels Tanya Lawler said: “Our aim is to offer more choice and greater availability in non-food than what is in our stores. We are able to offer the bigger, bulky items online that would just take up too much room in stores.”

The range will increase to 8,000 products by September, including ranges for babies and children, and nursery items. The site also has a price comparison tool and an “expert advice” tool to offer help on high-tech products.

The ranges will be made up of branded and own-brand items such as Different by design and its Tu Home range, alongside brands including Sony, Apple and Le Creuset. It will not include Sainsbury’s clothing brand Tu and Lawler said there are no plans in the immediate future to launch clothing online. 

Nielsen Online analyst Alex Burmaster said: “Sainsbury’s was lagging behind Tesco and Asda so adding non-food to its website is a good move and one that consumers will want.”

Burmaster said that almost one in five Britons online visit Tesco’s website, while one in 11 visit Asda; only one in 20 visit Sainsbury’s.

“Sainsbury’s needs to now claw back some of those shoppers who have defected to Tesco or Asda because it suits their needs of ordering non-food at the same time as grocery,” he said.

Products will be distributed from Sainsbury’s depot in Corby, Northamptonshire, and through a network of suppliers who deliver direct to the customer. Sainsbury’s already sells some white goods ranges online including fridges, cookers and washing machines.