UK upmarket retailer Waitrose has announced a multi-million pound investment that will see the launch of a drive-through click and collect service.

The group said today (25 February), the first drive-through will open at Waitrose Cheltenham in March, followed by services in branches in Southend, Salisbury, Wolverhampton and Lincoln. Shoppers will be able to order groceries online and pick them up from a collection area in the branch car park in designated time slots.

The grocer said it will also trial self-service collection pods in an undisclosed number of locations by the end of the year. The pods will have chambers at different temperatures which shoppers can drive up to and unlock with a code supplied to them at the time of placing their online order.

Waitrose ecommerce director, Robin Phillips, said the investment marks “a turning point” in its ambitions to become “a truly omnichannel retailer”.

“The introduction of drive-throughs and, later this year, collection pods gives time-pressed customers even greater choice about how to receive orders made through Waitrose.com,” he said.

The free service builds on Waitrose’s in-store grocery collection service, available in 157 of its stores – and will be rolled out to further branches based on customer feedback, it said.