Waitrose customers will be able to order shopping online and pick it up from a collection point in the store car-park at a designated time-slot.
The first drive-thru Waitrose will open at its Cheltenham store in March with stores in Southend, Salisbury, Wolverhampton and Lincoln due to follow. The service will roll out to more stores following feedback to the trial.
The supermarket will also add self-service collection pods later this year. The pods have chambers to store food at different temperatures until shoppers arrive to pick up their goods and unlock the device with a code supplied when the online order is placed.
Waitrose already offers in-store grocery collection in 157 stores and a click and collect service for sister chain John Lewis which allows customers to order non-food products online and collect from a local grocery store.
Waitrose ecommerce director Robin Phillips, says: “This investment marks a turning point in our ambitions to become a truly omnichannel retailer. The introduction of drive-throughs and, later this year, collection pods gives time-pressed customers even greater choice about how to receive orders made through Waitrose.com. The free service will appeal to busy parents with kids in tow as well as young professionals and anyone who wants to collect pre-picked and packaged orders when it suits them.”
Waitrose reported a 37 per cent rise in online sales over the Christmas period. Almost half (43 per cent) of John Lewis click and collect orders are picked up in a Waitrose shop.
Meanwhile, department store John Lewis has added CollectPlus services allowing customers to return online purchases through local convenience stores for free.
Click and collect orders have nearly doubled in the last year and accounted for 35 per cent of online Christmas sales, according to Karen Dracou, head of omnichannel development at John Lewis.
CollectPlus operates a network of 5,000 convenience stores, newsagents and petrol stations around the UK allowing shoppers to collect and return online parcels outside normal trading hours seven days a week so they do not have to wait at home for delivery.
John Lewis appointed Mark Lewis, CEO of CollectPlus to the newly created online director role last month.