Ocado is eyeing a move into clothing and homeware after it cemented its position as a pandemic winner with a profit upgrade and further acquisitions.
In recent years, the firm has been selling its robotic warehouses to major grocers overseas to help them beef up their online offering.
It now plans to replicate the move with clothes and general merchandise after it bought two tech firms in the US to improve the speed and the scope of robot-picking.
“The main aim here is [improving] productivity,” he said. “Given the market opportunity, we want to accelerate the development of our systems, including improving their speed, accuracy, product range and economics.
Mr Steiner added: “I am also excited by the opportunity to enter new markets for robotic solutions outside of grocery that is demonstrated by Kindred Systems’ robust growth, with existing customers such as Gap and American Eagle across the general merchandise and logistics sectors.”
Ocado is buying San Francisco’s Kindred Systems, which develops robots used in picking and packing online orders, for $262m (£203m) and robotic arm designer Haddington Dynamic, based in Las Vegas, for $25m (£19.3m), if US watchdogs approve.
The online grocery and technology firm now expects underlying profits to be more than £60m in the year to December, up from £40m it pencilled in before. Ocado only has a fraction of the grocery market in the UK compared to rivals.
Finance chief Duncan Tatton-Brown said that Ocado did not expect the surge in sales to hold up for so long after the peak in March and April, but Britons have continued to embrace home delivery.
Mr Steiner said that customers “are not particularly stockpiling or anything like that”.
Berenberg analysts Tom Davies and Pauline Chevalier said: "These continuous developments and enhancements highlight the attractiveness of the Ocado Smart Platform. A retailer partnering with the platform also benefits from innovations and will receive the benefits."
The shares were up 8.3pc at £24.64.