Tesco opened its sixth dotcom centre at the end of October in Erith to serve east London, Croydon and north-west Kent.
The 120,000 sq ft site, its fourth generation dotcom centre, currently makes up 1,500 orders a day, and when at full capacity this can increase to 4,000.
Tesco home shopping managing director Simon Belsham said while picking from its 300 stores is the primary delivery method, areas of high demand where it has a low density of stores, the dotcom centres are most efficient.
Tesco, which has a 47.5% share of the online grocery market according to Kantar, sells 30,000 products from Erith – 50% more than the average store and 16% more than the other five dotcom centres.
Belsham said the increased capacity would allow Tesco to offer more ethnic foods and upmarket lines, depending on what shoppers wanted.
Ambient picking starts at 8pm, fresh picking starts at 4am and the first vans leave at 6am. Its ‘goods to person picking’ is “a first for grocery dotcom in the UK” said Richard Lamb, grocery operations development director at Tesco.
The initiative means products and customer trays go directly to the picker, rather than previous centres where the picker had to walk to collect products, thereby increasing efficiencies.
Tesco has also made its “chill chain” more efficient. Chilled products go straight to the van on an automated system, meaning the products maintain maximum freshness.
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In pictures: Inside Tesco's fourth generation dotcom centre in Erith