Waitrose & Partners has launched a trial of a new service that will allow the supermarket chain to deliver groceries inside homes and put them away while customers are out.

The ‘While You’re Away’ service is the first of its kind to be tested in the UK, with 100 customers within the delivery area of the supermarket’s fulfilment centre in Coulsdon, south London, eligible to use the service.

Amazon launched a similar initiative in the US last year, using its Cloud Cam device and compatible smart locks. Amazon’s system allows couriers to enter homes and deliver their parcels using a secure network to unlock and lock the customer’s door.

Similarly, Waitrose’s new service makes use of Yale smart lock technology, allowing customers to grant access to a Waitrose delivery driver by setting a temporary access code for the lock, which is sent to the company via a secure app. The code is then forwarded to the driver’s device at the time the customer has booked the delivery and is deleted once the delivery has been completed.

The service is designed to allow drivers to put refrigerated and frozen goods away and follow instructions from customers as to where they should deliver other grocery items.The whole delivery process is captured on a chest-cam worn by Waitrose drivers and customers can request a full recording of the footage.

If the trial in Coulsdon is successful, Waitrose is looking to roll the service out to more than 1,000 customers in spring 2019.

Commenting on the initiative, Waitrose & Partners head of business development Archie Mason said: “There is certainly an increasing demand among our customers to make shopping with us even more convenient to fit around their busy lifestyles. Rather than waiting for a delivery or trying to put everything away, it gives customers more flexibility to use that time differently, including more time enjoying cooking and eating the food they’ve bought.

“The concept of ‘in-home delivery’ has started to prove popular in other countries so we are keen to establish if there is an appetite for it in the UK.”

Yale UK managing director Nigel Fisher added: “Working with Waitrose & Partners to develop the UK’s first in-home delivery service is an exciting premise for Yale, as we look to understand how smart products can enhance daily lives, as well as protecting your home. Our heritage and priority is in security, but the technologies we’re now working with means we can also collaborate with companies, like Waitrose, to also develop services that fit with modern life.”