Asda is to open more click-and-collect locations across the UK and provide free in-store wifi at all its stores as part of its bid to tap into changing consumer habits.

The UK’s second-largest grocer will roll out its click-and-collect service to 100 locations by Christmas, COO Judith McKenna said yesterday (9 October).

Asda launched click-and-collect on a trial basis earlier this year but the retailer is expanding the service as consumers increasingly use technology as part of the way they shop.

“There is a complete blend of online and offline. Our customers don’t see it as one or the either. They see it as an overall experience,” McKenna told the IGD annual convention.

Asda has also started to provide free wifi in its stores, a move that will be complete by the end of the year. “It is a bit of a leap of faith. As an ex finance director, putting the business case together was a little challenging. We have got to the stage where it is a no-brainer. The connectivity between mobile, store and customer is really exciting. As our customers change, we have got to as well.”

McKenna told the audience, which contained senior executives from a number of food manufacturing giants, Asda’s investment in technology could also be to their benefit.

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“For you as suppliers, look into our stores and think about the possibilites presenting thems to you as wifi opens up connectivity that wasn’t there before,” she said.

However, McKenna indicated Asda’s move on wifi could also make the way the retailer runs its stores more efficient.

“We’ve just given every single one of store managers an iPad to enable them to spend more time on the shop floor, selling products, coaching colleagues, walking aisles with customers. We estimate this will save store managers around seven hours a week. Can you imagine getting a day back to reinvest back in your businesses? Our stores are going to be so much better from having that increased time of leadership,” she said. “We believe we are going to be able to connect shelf-edge fixtures to the home office right back through to the suppliers. This is going to step us on efficiently.”