Waitrose has this week launched social networking site Mywaitrose.com to drive interactivity with its customers.

The MyWaitrose site gives customers information on what happens behind the scenes at the grocer, along with tips from Waitrose staff and the chance to swap ideas with experts. It will also give customers monthly special offers, so they can taste and comment on new and existing products and meet Waitrose buyers at VIP customer tastings.

Waitrose commercial director Richard Hodgson said: “Everyone talks about listening to their customers and we are summarising that and asking for anyone who enjoys good food to get actively involved.”

The site has soft-launched this week with a personal invitation to join from managing director Mark Price. It will officially launch at the end of the month, when Waitrose will send out direct mail to its near-100,000 card holders. Hodgson said the Waitrose site receives more than 300,000 visitors a week and he expects Mywaitrose.com to have 6,000 to 10,000 customers signed up by April.

Waitrose is also in negotiations with several celebrity chefs, who will be on hand to provide tips and recipes on the site and to discuss topics such as genetically modified ingredients.

Hodgson said: “The site will develop with ideas from our customers and we will make sure we listen and act on their suggestions. If we can build a big community then hopefully we can encourage customers to do their full shop with us, rather than shop around.”