Asda is equipping its store managers with iPads to encourage them to spend more time on the shop floor.
It is also rolling out high speed Wi-Fi to all stores, which it claims will open up opportunities for customers, colleagues and suppliers.
In addition, the retailer is launching click and collect services for online orders in 100 locations by Christmas including non-store based locations.
The plans were announced by Asda chief operating officer Judith McKenna at the IGD 2012 Convention.
McKenna said iPads would save store managers seven hours a week, which would be reinvested back into the business.
The handheld devices will be used for coaching colleagues at the shelf edge and signing off modulars, she said.
“We think the iPad will revolutionise the way we manage our stores,” she said. “The power of information on the shop floor is going to be very important for the future.”
Wi-Fi will be rolled out to all stores by Christmas.
McKenna described the move as a “leap of faith” but also a no-brainer.
“Connectivity between mobile, store and the customer is really exciting. We have got to look at every aspect of how we operate. Yesterday’s business model is now longer fit for the consumer of tomorrow,” she said.
McKenna claimed Wi-Fi would help drive unimaginable opportunities for suppliers in the same way as its Retail Link system, which provides access to how products are selling.
McKenna revealed ‘mobile mums’ were a key target market at Asda. They are multi-taskers and they shop when they want to and on their terms, she said.
“The only part we can play is to make it quick and easy for her,” said McKenna.
McKenna said Asda has developed apps designed to make life easier for mums with voice search and bar code scanning, for example.
“We’ve listened to mums and found out what’s important,” she said. McKenna eported more apps were in the pipeline – developed in conjunction with Wal-Mart colleagues in the US.
Simple and effective were watchwords; bells and whistles were overrated, she said.
McKenna said the new marketing challenge would be communicating with the shopper at the fixture – what Asda terms the ‘actual moment of purchase’; and those who provided a positive disruption of the shopping experience at that juncture would be winners.
“Retailing has come a long way in a relatively short period of time,” McKenna said. However, she warned: “If you are excited by what you see, you need to take a reality check because we are only beginning to scratch the surface.”
McKenna said investment in people was key and Asda parent Wal-Mart had a mission to recruit ‘people who don’t think like them’.
“We need talented to people think around corners and help develop the future and we’ve looked outside the organisation to find the right talent,” she said.
McKenna said the new recruits – specialists in algorithms and search, for example – were rare resources for the grocery industry but would help create a more agile business that challenges traditional ways of thinking.
“There is an opportunity to come out better and stronger,” she said.