Tesco has chosen Dematic to install an automated picking and handling system at two new dark stores, following a successful rollout at the Enfield operation it opened last February.

The retailer claimed that the Dematic ‘Multishuttle’ system at Enfield had enabled it to double existing pick rates and transfer online shopping operations from several local stores where staff had picked and handled online deliveries manually.

“We picked Dematic because its system would enable us to achieve our objectives of faster picking, accuracy and reliability,” said Tesco operations development manager David Burroughs.

“Multishuttle also offers a number of advantages over similar systems, particularly its speed for loading our vans. Also, the height of the system enables us to make good use of space that would otherwise be dead air.”

Dematic’s sales project manager Shane Faulkner said that by turning to automation for its online operation, Tesco could “increase volumes, while maintaining the high service levels essential with home delivery”.

Tesco’s fifth dark store is set to open in Crawley in early 2013. It has started construction on a sixth site in Erith, near Dartford, which will incorporate further technologies from Dematic and is expected to be operational by October.

The retailer is also scouting for two further locations for dark stores in Birmingham and Manchester as it looks to build on its 48% market share of online grocery shopping, with sales of over £2bn a year.

At its interim results last month, Tesco CEO Philip Clarke said online sales at Tesco had grown by 15% during Q3. Tesco Direct has also expanded its product range from 75,000 items to over 200,000 in the past six months, after introducing third party sellers.