Publicis Sapient tasked with Asda e-commerce development

01 March 2023 3 min. read
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Asda is partnering with Publicis Sapient to deliver a new e-commerce platform. The move will help the supermarket decrease dependence on its former owner Walmart, which previously helped it fulfil online sales.

Recent developments in the British retail scene have seen the country’s largest supermarkets scrambling for ways to consolidate their operations. Amid spiralling debts, climbing business rates, a weakened pound, and intensifying competition from budget grocery firms Aldi and Lidl, Asda has long been exploring a number of options when it comes to boosting its performance.

In 2019, this saw it flirt Asda flirt with the idea of merging with competitor Sainsbury’s – a move that was eventually scuppered when the UK’s competition watchdog became involved. In the end, Asda was instead sold to Mohsin Issa and Zuber Issa, with the backing of TDR Capital acquired Asda. While Walmart retains "an equity investment" in Asda, a seat on the board and "an ongoing commercial relationship", this has led to two years of quick-fire restructuring.

Publicis Sapient tasked with Asda e-commerce development

The final steps of this are now in progress, with Asda having announced it is partnering with digital consulting company Publicis Sapient, in a bid to create an eGrocery business. As it shifts away from Walmart’s mode of operation, the new wing will aim to fulfil online sales in a way the grocer formerly relied on Walmart to execute.

Originally founded in 1990, Publicis Sapient is a global digital transformation consulting company. As part of the digital business transformation hub of Publicis Groupe, it is part of a worldwide network with 20,000 people and over 50 offices. The transformation consultancy has previously worked with a number of the UK’s largest businesses when building digital infrastructure – from British Gas, to McDonalds, and even Asda itself. In one prior engagement, this saw the firm work with Asda to build and implement the supermarket’s new email marketing tool, using Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Julian Skelly, Senior Managing Partner at Publicis Sapient, commented, “We are proud to be working with Asda, a beloved British brand, on transforming its online grocery platforms and helping the retailer build an agile organisation for digital success… The work is singularly focused on enabling Asda to be independent of Walmart and enabling the retailer to evolve and grow, focusing on exceptional usability and customer experience.”

According to Publicis Sapient, the new platform for Asda will be delivered by April 2024, as part of a “hugely ambitious” change programme. In the meantime, Asda will continue to tap Walmart for some tech solutions – including Walmart’s white label online and click & collect fulfilment app, Store Assist, which it rolled out to more than 330 superstores in late 2022.

Looking ahead, Carl Dawson, Chief Digital and Technology Officer at Asda, stated, “We are delighted to be partnering with Publicis Sapient, a leading digital business transformation company with a strong track record in e-commerce platforms. We look forward to a successful partnership and to the delivery of a platform that will enable a seamless transition for our customers, moving from a legacy system run by Walmart to an entirely independent Asda-owned platform.”