Shopping cart

What will it take to build a better shopping cart? – RetailWire

06 December 2021

A university study found that shopping carts with two parallel handles, instead of the standard single horizontal handlebar, could increase sales for grocers by 25% over standard carts because they work biceps instead of triceps.

“Research in psychology has proven that triceps activation is associated with rejecting things we don’t like – for example when we push or hold something away from us – while biceps activation is associated with things we like – for example when we pull or hold something close to our body,” the researchers from Bayes Business School in London said in a Press release. The study instead considered the use of a “newly designed trolley with parallel handles – like that of a wheelbarrow – activates the biceps muscle.

Bicep curl theories aside, shopping carts today remain largely similar to the one developed in the 1930s by Sylvan Goldman, then owner of Oklahoma’s Humpty Dumpty supermarket chain. The invention, inspired by a folding chair, replaced small wooden or wire baskets that quickly became too heavy as shoppers added items to the aisles.

The second major innovation to shopping carts came in the 1940s with the invention of the swinging rear door by Orla Watson which allowed shopping carts to be stacked to save space.

Among other innovations, Whole Foods in 2012 made its debut a “Smarter Cart” equipped with a Microsoft Kinect sensor bar and a Windows 8 tablet capable of detecting items placed there, matching them to a shopping list, and following shoppers through the store by them- same. The chariot, from Chaotic Moon, has spoken, responded to voice commands, offered recipe suggestions, and identified when an item violated an established dietary restriction, such as being gluten-free.

In 2016, Dallas-based Dieste unveiled his artificial intelligence CartMate who offered shoppers the best routes around the store based on their shopping list. Based on past purchases, shopping list and social media activity, CartMate promised to find and suggest suitable deals and coupons for the shopper.

However, neither project caught on, and few groundbreaking innovations have arrived elsewhere for the utility cart, a device a New York Times article from last October described as “the centerpiece of every grocery store.”

In January, Kroger began testing a smart cart, the KroGo, which eliminates checkout.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why hasn’t the standard shopping cart changed much since it arrived in the early 20th century? Do you still see a tech-infused, self-driving future for grocery carts?


“A lighter cart with additional electronic intelligence is overdue, but it needs to be affordable to the retailer and highly accurate.”

“Adding electronic devices to existing carts is more likely to be accepted by the buyer and will add value to the shopping experience.”

“For the same reason, we don’t see much innovation in the mousetrap market. The basic platform works very well and meets almost all customer requirements.”