Asda has outlined a radical new strategy that it claims will make it the first genuinely transparent business that puts the customer at the heart of its decision-making process.
The Wal-Mart owned grocer’s chief executive and president Andy Bond today outlined three parts to the strategy, which include placing web cams in parts of its business and consulting customers directly during the buying process, including in its George fashion brand as well as the main supermarket business.
Bond said: “Events over the past year mean that faith in big businesses is lower that it’s ever been. By lifting the lid on how we do things we will become a leader in transparency. Our new model is run by the consumer for the consumer. It’s a fundamental shift of power as we revolutionalise the decision-making process.
“From today our customers become core decision makers. We’re opening the company up in a way no company has done before.”
Bond, who again ruled out becoming the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, saying “I’m not going to M&S - end of story” - heralded a “new ear of democratic consumerism”.
He said: “Loyalty can’t be bought by plastic cards and money-off vouchers. It has to be earned”.
As part of its new strategy, Asda’s ‘Chosen by You’ initiative allows customers to get involved in decisions made in “every aspect of the business”. Asda’s existing community of 18,000 shoppers will be given “unique access” to products before they go in the store, and will be “empowered to become core decision makers in the business, involved at each step of the process”.
‘Your Asda’ is an “access all areas window into the world of Asda”. People can visit Asda’s website and log onto a new blog, Aisle Spy (aislespyblog.com), where they can view parts of the business filmed by webcams. Asda said it eventually wants to enable customers to “trace the journey of every Asda product: from farm to fork or warehouse to wardrobe”.
A web cam has been placed in a carrot processing plant near Selby, as well as Asda House in Leeds. Bond did not rule out positioning webcams throughout its entire supply chain, or even in the board room. “We’ve got nothing to hide,” he said. “We are genuinely committed to being led by our customers.”
The retailer will also open a new ‘transparent’ store in Gorseinon, South west Wales next year, which will feature glass walls as well as screens on the shop floor showing what’s going on behind the scenes.
The third strand to the strategy is called ‘Bright Ideas’. Launched next year, Asda will reward customers who come up with innovative ideas that save the business money. For example, if an idea saves the retailer £2m, the person will be rewarded with £100,000.
“Our customer knows best, so it makes absolute sense to harness that experience.”
He also said if customers wanted access to his expenses he would give it to them. “Bring it on,” he said.