J Sainsbury, the UK’s second largest supermarket, has signed an exclusive three-month contract to test a scheme allowing shopping ordered online to be delivered to consumers while they are away from home.

The Homeport system uses a secure box attached to the customer’s home by an unbreakable steel cable which can only be removed using a personal smartcard. Groceries can be delivered into the box regardless of whether anyone is at home.

Sainsbury’s wants to find out whether consumers are willing to pay the £30 installation fee for the system and whether it can save the supermarket money.

Homeport claims that the scheme can lead to savings of up to 44% on delivery van costs and 60% on driving expenses because deliveries would no longer have to meet specific times.

Commented Sainsbury’s e-commerce director Angela Megson: “Being able to deliver shopping to customers while they are out is a major piece in the home shopping puzzle,” while Homeport’s Mark Lunn predicted a “massive shift in shopping behaviour” resulting from such schemes.

Once the trial comes to an end early next year, Homeport will look to sign up new partners in the UK and abroad.

News source: The Times (London)