The humble shopping cart, a staple of modern retail, has a history that stretches back more than 80 years. In this article, we will explore the evolution of the shopping cart from its humble beginnings as a simple folding chair to the high-tech tool of modern retail.
In 1936, Sylvan Goldman, owner of a grocery store, noticed that his customers were struggling to carry more than a few items at a time. He came up with a novel solution – the folding chair cart. Essentially a folding chair with a basket attached, the cart allowed customers to easily transport their purchases around the store. However, the design had some major flaws – it was awkward to maneuver and took up a lot of space in the store.
The next major innovation in shopping cart design came in 1940, with the introduction of the wheeled cart. Made of metal and featuring a wire basket, this design was much more practical than the earlier folding chair cart. However, it was still far from perfect – the metal frame was heavy and difficult to push, and the wire basket was prone to snagging on clothing.
Over the next few decades, shopping cart design continued to evolve. In the 1950s, plastic carts were introduced, which were lighter and easier to maneuver than their metal counterparts. In the 1960s, carts with two baskets were developed, allowing customers to separate their items into fresh food and non-perishable categories.
In the 1990s, innovations in materials and technology led to a revolution in shopping cart design. Plastic became the dominant material, and lightweight, high-strength plastics like polypropylene and polycarbonate were the materials of choice. In addition, advances in wheel design and construction made carts easier to push and steer.
But perhaps the biggest change in shopping cart design came with the integration of technology. In recent years, retailers have introduced “smart carts” equipped with scanners, screens, and even RFID technology that allows customers to scan items as they shop and then pay with the touch of a button. These high-tech carts also track customer behavior and shopping habits, allowing retailers to provide personalized offers and recommendations.
Today, shopping carts are an essential tool in the retail environment, allowing customers to easily transport their purchases from store to car. But the evolution of the shopping cart has been far from straightforward, with numerous design iterations and technological innovations along the way. From the humble folding chair cart to the high-tech smart cart, the humble shopping cart has come a long way in the last 80 years.