Sainsbury's hopes to double its annual sales figures with a new multichannel grocery website based on IBM's WebSphere ecommerce platform.

The supermarket has been working to improve its customer-facing online groceries website, saying that it works better across different channels, including on mobile devices.

Sainsbury's moved to IBM WebSphere from Blue Martini with the help of ecommerce digital agency Salmon. Salmon managed more than 10 third parties and the overall programme for replatforming the website, and will provide ongoing support. The third parties included Oracle, Endeca, LittleForest, System Concepts, Foviance, Site tagger/Bright tag, BazaarVoice, Acceleration, ClearLeft and ACI.

"It's taken Sainsbury's 14 years to reach £1 billion annual sales online and this new platform gives us the capacity to double this," said Jon Rudoe, digital and technology director at Sainsbury's (top image).

"Much of the work by Salmon has focused on improvements 'behind the screen' to allow us to build new and exciting functionality that will make the shopping experience better, faster and more efficient for our customers."

As well as moving the website, Salmon replatformed eight additional systems at Sainsbury's, comprising the contact centre, delivery scheduling, delivery management, content management, ratings and reviews, search and navigation and merchandising.

Large-scale replatforming

According to Salmon CEO Neil Stewart, this project is one of the first, and largest, grocery implementations on IBM WebSphere Commerce in the world.

The implementation involved migrating the data of eight million customer accounts, four million credit cards and 12 million orders. The new platform has also been tightly integrated with Sainsbury's legacy systems.

The digital agency said the migration was technically challenging, as the website includes features such as support for thousands of simultaneous promotions, calculated real-time in the basket.

Salmon also developed a number of bespoke applications and developed more than 80 integration points to back end systems and the supply chain to support reporting and the supermarket's entire multichannel offering.

The backend systems the new ecommerce platform is connected to includes product, promotion and pricing data, stores fulfilment, delivery/vehicle tracking, payment, product and supplier data, in-store picking, non-groceries platform, range/product availability and delivery/route planning.


The supermarket's website is now optimised for use on mobile and tablet devices, with pages rendered in HTML, using User Interface Design best practices with CSS as standard, so that customer experience is the same across browsers.

Although the website pages were in HTML before as well, Salmon used CSS3 for visual styles like rounded corners, gradients and drop shadows for the browsers that support them.

"This has reduced the number of images the customer has to download," a spokesperson for Salmon said.

"In the HTML, we have worked hard to provide a logical and semantic document structure to make the site more accessible to differently-abled customers."