Sainsbury's have signed an agreement with Homeport to trial unattended delivery boxes for its Sainsbury's to You home delivery customers. In a first for a UK supermarket, customers will be able to receive home shopping without having to be at home.

Sainsbury's e-commerce director Angela Megson said,"Being able to deliver shopping to customers whilst they are out is a major piece in the home shopping puzzle. People using Homeport will be free of restraints on delivery time which in turn will give our operation many more options with fulfilment. Instead of visiting a neighbourhood four or five times a day in different two hour slots, we can drop a large number of deliveries on one journey and they will be secure for the customers to receive when they return from work."

The Homeport system will mean that Sainsburys' customers' shopping will be delivered to the door in a secure box. The delivery driver simply attaches the box to the customer's Homeport, a small device which is secured to the outside of the customer's home. The shopping is then released by the customer with a swipe of their personalised smart card. When the shopping has been taken, a Sainsbury's to You delivery van will pick up the box on a return journey.

Homeport marketing director, Mark Lunn believes the Homeport will radically change the face of home shopping, he said "There are two key factors to Homeport's success. Firstly we are the most convenient system for the customer and secondly we can simplify logistics and reduce delivery costs for the retailer. We believe that this system will stimulate home shopping because although ordering goods through the internet is very easy, it is very difficult to deliver goods if the people are not at home."

Initial testing will begin with a small number of customers in early December with ambient products only. Sainsbury's is currently looking at ways of delivering chilled and frozen foods using Homeport whilst maintaining the highest standards of food safety and quality. If testing proves successful Sainsbury's will begin a second phase of trialling with both chilled and ambient foods in the new year.