Tesco is considering opening drive-thru pick up areas at its dotcom only stores in the latest plan to further grow its multichannel operations by providing customers with new ways to shop.

The grocer currently has three so-called ‘dark stores’ in Croydon, Aylesford in Kent and Greenford in Middlesex, where online orders are picked by Tesco staff but no customers are allowed in to shop. The planned move will allow customers to order their groceries online and pick them up from the sites.

Tesco opened its first two drive-thrus at Extra stores in Baldock and Romford in August whereby customers order online, then drive to a designated area in the store car park and have their goods loaded into their car at a prearranged time. The grocer said the service has been designed for shoppers who want their goods picked and packed but do not have the time to wait at home for delivery.

The move is the latest development in the fight for online grocery spend. Asda opened a dotcom store in Enfield earlier this year to help it service the South where it is currently weaker, while Ocado has signed for its second warehouse in the West Midlands. Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s said on Wednesday that its online growth is up 20% in its interims, and Morrisons said it will trial online grocery shopping next year.

A spokesman for Tesco said: “We are trialling a click-and-collect grocery service [at Baldock and Romford] and we will consider all opportunities.”

Tesco has been ramping up its multichannel offer in recent months. This week it launched a mobile-optimised site for its Tesco Direct offer. Further mobile sites will be rolled out in the next six months for all of its online offers.

In Tesco’s interim results, Tesco.com reported a 16.1% rise in sales to £1.2bn.

Flying the flag

Prime Minister David Cameron visited Tesco’s Happy Valley store in Beijing as part of his trip to China this week.

Tesco executive director Lucy Neville-Rolfe joined Cameron on his trip as well as other retailers including Alliance Boots boss Stefano Pessina and Mothercare chief executive Ben Gordon.

The Happy Valley store is Tesco’s 100th Chinese store in Jinan, Shandong Province.