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Asda looks to ramp up its wine offer with new bespoke online Wine Shop

Published:  15 October, 2013

Asda is to launch its first bespoke online wine offer on October 28 which will give its customers the chance to select a mixed case of six wines from a range of 500.

The site is the latest in a series of ecommerce moves by Asda as it looks to drive forward with its multi-channel strategy.

The new Asda Wine Shop will feature 200 new wines that have been sourced and developed specifically to attract both existing and new customers to Asda's wine offer.

Tracy Ford, Asda's category director for beers, wines and spirits, told she wants to at least double Asda's online wine sales over the next "12 to 18  months" which currently only account for 5% of total wines sales.

Prices will start at below £5 and go right up to £45. The new wine range will all be picked for customers from Asda's storage centre, compared to the main grocery site which picks direct from stores.

Ford said the launch was also part of an extended effort to raise Asda's wine profile with its customers where it had "under traded" compared to beers and spirits.

The fact it has been able to introduce 200 new wines to its range is largely down to how "embedded" direct sourcing has now become of the Asda BWS strategy.

It now has sourcing managers around the world who are able to bring new wines and producers to Asda.

"The direct sourcing model is helping us in a number of different ways," said Ford. "It allows us to be a lot more in control and have direct relationships with our producers. We are on rolling two to three year partnerships with many of our producers and we can re-invest in the quality of our wines."

The producers, she added, also have the reassurance to "reinvest in their own businesses". Working on longer term contracts is, she added, "the only way we are going to get the best out of our producers".

They are also able to gain serious international distribution through Asda's parent company, WalMart, and its many chains around the world. Up to 40 of its wine producers and two of its spirits suppliers are now working with WalMart in Japan.

The initial 500-strong range will be added to next year, confirmed Ford.  

"Over the next 12 months we will work to freshen and build on the initial range," she said.

It will analyse closely how customers respond to the new bespoke wine offer and use their feedback to adapt and grow the range to what Ford hopes will be 800 wines by the middle of next year.

"We have been quite guilty of a one size fits all approach in our wine offer and are trying to become more sophisticated about what consumers want and develop a range that meets their needs," she explained.

Thirty per cent of the 500 wine on-line offer will be own label and 70% will be brands, extensions to brand ranges and producer own label wines.

Philippa Carr MW, Asda's head wine buyer, said the range had been built up to include a "good foundation of classics from around the world". Wines that can be benchmarked against its competition. "Wines that are typical for their region and style," she said.

There are, for example, a number of new premium Burgundy wines and some "good clarets" as part of its "strong emphasis on France".

The new wine range also includes a strong representation from the southern hemisphere with the likes of premium Eileen Hardy wine from Australia, Cono Sur's 20 Barrels and premium Errazuriz wines from Chile, Villa Maria Reserve, New Zealand and Jacob's Creek acclaimed Steingarten Riesling also from Australia.

Carr, though, stressed further extensions to the range will be done very much in consultation and feedback from customers on the site.

If the Wine Shop is successful, Ford expects Asda to follow up with a dedicated site for premium spirits. "But we are not planning anything at the moment for beer."

The central packing facility will allow Asda to offer customers a wide range of pre-mixed cases to suit particular occasions seasons of the year, or wine styles, like Winter Warmers or New Zealand classics.

Other Wine Shop initiatives include:

* free delivery on all orders until the end of the year to encourage trial of the site

·         free next day click and collect service

·         10% of first orders

·         a blog from Philippa Carr highlighting how the range has been put together and suggestions for selecting wines

·         features to promote Asda's new winemaker partners and how it is finding new growers around the world.