Asda has eye on islands

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Store Wars could resume in the Western Isles as a new contender could be vying for the custom of island shoppers.

One of the UK’s largest supermarket chains has it’s eye on the Western Isles - but has no plans to open a new store.

Asda has already started an online shopping link for customers on the Isle of Skye and said this week they believed it was ‘only a matter of time’ before they would consider other rural postcodes.

Already Asda groceries are delivered to Barra through Barratlantic lorries and so far this service has been very successful and on Skye, Asda have started to send over their own delivery vans with orders three times a week in response to customer demand.

In Lewis, Harris and Uist, some Asda orders are already being delivered through a courier company but this could progress in the future.

Beck Moran, Asda Inverness home shopping manager said: “Currently we work with a  courier company to deliver to the Lewis, Uist, and Harris islands. Customers order in the same way at Asda.com but enter the courier company address details for delivery. It’s already clear from the orders coming through there is definitely demand for a home delivery route to the islands, and it is something we are looking at implementing in the future.”

She added: ““We’ve also recently extended our deliveries to Skye due to customer demand, and the route is proving a huge success so I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before we’re able to consideding to further postal codes. We have a standard delivery rate across all our online orders to ensure customers living in remote areas such as Skye don’t have to pay a premium for transport costs. “

At present in the Western Isles, the Co-op is the only company to have stores throughout the Western Isles. They have had a long commitment to rural communities and offer home delivery services but not online shopping.

A spokesperson for the Co-Operative said this week they had no plans to offer their customers online shopping for groceries and had no plans to alter stores in the near future.

Tesco also has a presence in Stornoway but again offers home deliveries but not online shopping. Over the Christmas period, the introduced a Click and Collect service for tesco.com goods which allowed customers to avoid high delivery charges but this did not extend to grocery shopping. Entering an HS1 postcode on the Tesco site gives the nearest store offering online grocery shopping to be located in Inverness.

With many families living in the Western Isles living outside Stornoway, many without a car or struggling with the price of fuel, the arrival of the supermarket van delivering an order to the doorstep could have its advantages.

On the Stornoway Gazette’s Facebook page, the topic of online grocery shopping was a lively one with most readers saying this service would make life much easier for them, especially those with small children.

Asda say the the online grocery shopping sector is growing at 20 per cent year on year and click and collect groceries are now the fastest growing element of the dotcom business.

They are now trialling various Click and Collect options including lockers and drive-through and they estimate that more and more people are using mobile and tablets to place their grocery orders suggesting people are shopping on the go.

Twenty per cent of all Asda’s online orders now come via a mobile device, this has grown from five per cent at Christmas 2011 to 25 per cent during Christmas 2012 period.

Pictured is the Asda Delivery van crossing the Skye Bridge.