What will it take to build a better shopping cart?
A university study finds shopping carts with two parallel grips, instead of the standard single horizontal handlebar, could boost sales by 25 percent for grocers versus standard carts because they work the biceps instead of the triceps.
“Psychology research 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 do like — for example when we pull or hold something close to our body,” stated the researchers from London-based Bayes Business School in a press release. The study considered instead the use of a “newly-designed trolley with parallel handles — like that of a wheelbarrow — activates the biceps muscle.”
Bicep-flexing theories aside, shopping carts today remain largely similar to the one developed in the 1930s by Sylvan Goldman, then the 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 in aisles.
The second major innovation to shopping carts came in the 1940s with the invention of the swinging rear door by Orla Watson that enabled carts to be stacked together to save space.
Among other innovations, Whole Foods in 2012 debuted a “Smarter Cart” equipped with a Microsoft Kinect sensor bar and a Windows 8 tablet that could detect what items were placed in it, match them to a shopping list and follow shoppers around the store on its own. The cart, from Chaotic Moon, spoke, responded to voice commands, offered recipe suggestions and identified when an item failed to meet an established dietary restriction such as being gluten-free.
In 2016, Dallas-based Dieste unveiled its AI-powered CartMate that 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 deals and coupons tailored to the shopper.
Neither project caught on, however, and not much breakthrough innovation has arrived elsewhere for the utilitarian shopping cart, a device a New York Times article this past October described as the “centerpiece of every grocery store run.”
In January, Kroger began testing a smart cart, the KroGo, that eliminates checkout.
Original story featured on RetailWire