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The then and now of supermarket trolleys, by Julius Cartson

Supermarket trolleys are a relatively modern invention. It was 1936 when Sylvan N. Goldman, owner of the Standard/Piggly-Wiggly grocery chain in Oklahoma noticed that his customers were not buying any more things because it was so difficult to carry all their items round the whole shop in paper bags or baskets. Before coming up with the solution, he tried a number of possibilities, including shop assistants giving customers empty baskets and taking the full baskets to the checkouts. That did not work because at that time his shops were small and the staff got in customers’ way as they went back and forth.

He then had another idea and created the first supermarket trolleys with a folding chair with wheels and a wire basket fitted to it. At first, Sylvan N. Goldman’s customers didn’t want to use the new trolleys. For some it was like pushing a pram and for others it was very inelegant. But Mr Goldman did not despair and he hired a group of men and women of varying ages to pretend to shop with the new supermarket trolleys. That is how supermarket trolleys first saw the light of day in June 1937 and gradually became an integral part of other self-service shops. However, the new trolleys took up a lot of room in the shop and were stored disassembled. Ten years later in 1947, American engineer Orla E. Watson solved the space problem by inventing the hinged rear gate. The gate allows supermarket trolleys to be slotted into each other, significantly reducing the room they need.

Subsequent changes to supermarket trolleys have mainly involved using different materials. Initially they were all metal, later hybrid trolleys emerged, with metal bodies and plastic baskets. Ultimately, it became possible to manufacture supermarket trolleys entirely out of plastic, including the body.

Julius Cartson, tells us about how things are today and the evolution of Carttec shopping trolleys. Working closely with the University of Salamanca, our RDi department CarttecLAB has taken a further step forward in the design of supermarket trolleys:

JuliusTEC: self-driving shopping trolleys to help customers while they shop. JuliusTEC allows the trolley to move independently, without having to be touched by the customer. These trolleys have advanced obstacle detection to provide greater safety and a better shopping experience for everybody. Thy use an advanced three-dimensional space mapping system to navigate a path through their surroundings.

JuliusCART:The supermarket trolleys that enhance the shopping experience. The primary aim behind the JuliusCART range is to make shopping with a trolley in a supermarket or cash & carry outlet easier by minimising the effort required from the customer through assisted driving. A heavily loaded trolley can make shopping awkward and clumsy. JuliusCART supermarket trolley technology propels the trolley round the shop to allow it to move smoothly and effortlessly even when heavily loaded. These trolleys have obstacle detection to make them safer to use round the supermarket.

Carttec: Innovating for the future, revolutionising the present