Asda to debut virtual store

London The Financial Times reported Thursday that Asda, the U.K. arm of Wal-Mart is expected to test grocery buying over the Internet with a new virtual store. In fact, the store will have a physical presence, but offer Internet-only purchases.

Asda is expected to test the concept in Morley, Yorkshire, according to finance director Judith McKenna.

According to the report, the virtual store will have shelves, but no conveyor belts, and is expected to open this summer.

“It’s like a store without customers,” said McKenna, adding that the center would “not look like a store.”

The center will be opened on a site adjacent to an existing store.

It will be able to serve about double the number of online customers reached in the region currently, McKenna said.

The plans for the virtual store follow a similar move by Tesco, which two years ago opened an Internet-only store. Both companies are expanding aggressively online, with expectations that it will become a key way for customers to buy groceries in the future, according to the Times.

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