Asda hopes the changes, taking place over the course of this month, will allow asdamagazine.com to function as a standalone publication, rather than simply replicating the offline magazine, by primarily harnessing an online community environment. It is the first major re-development of the site since its launch April 2008.
Asda's offline monthly magazine, created by Publicis Blueprint, has the largest circulation of retail magazines at over 2.5 million and through the redevelopment of the website, Asda is hoping to transfer this popularity into the online space.
Asda uses its magazine to focus on quality, rather than simply communicating messages surrounding affordability, achievability and accessibility, as it does in its above-the-line activity. As a result the magazine aims to compete with grocery rivals such as Sainsbury's and Waitrose.
The new site, which has also been created by the customer publishing agency, aims to be more accessible to its core audience of 35 - 44 year old busy mothers. The Flash-based design has been replaced by a more accessible HTML format and contains new sections and features exclusive to the online offering.
New features for the site include ‘Ask The Experts', which creates a dialogue between advisers and customers, a Popular Search area, video recipes and exclusive competitions. The site also has a dedicated community area where consumers will eventually be able to post comments, such as their own personal hints and tips.
Interactivity tools will include polls and voting on categories including clothing, and also reader ratings on items such as food recipes.
Consumers will also be prompted to set up their own user account, with the username appearing when they directly interact with areas on the new site.
Asda already has its own Twitter feed but the retailer is also understood to be looking at how to use it for the online magazine, to further encourage user engagement.
Last month rival Tesco revamped its publishing strategy and is rolling out a free magazine, Real Food, in March. The 60-page, handbag-sized title will have a circulation of 1.25 million.
Real Food will be supported by a website at www.tesco.com/food, which will carry all Tesco's food editorial content. This will enable customers to access recipes, cooking-tip videos and meal planners, with click-to-buy links through to Tesco.com.
Although the Asda magazine was the biggest in the retail space between January and June 2009, circulation dropped 13.2% year on year.