A trip to the supermarket wouldn’t be the same without the shopping trolley, a utilitarian piece of design that allows us to buy more than we can physically carry. Colin Bisset takes a look at the history of an invention that changed consumerism forever.
The shopping trolley is one of the most successful marketing inventions of the 20th century. It came into existence in 1937 as a by-product of a new kind of shopping experience popularised in the 1920s: the supermarket.
While some supermarkets are better than others, it's probably not unusual to find a few stray shopping carts littering the parking lot to the dismay of shoppers who may think that a parking spot is open, only to find that it's actually being used by a shopping cart. It seems like a basic courtesy to others: you get a cart at the supermarket, you use it to get your groceries and bring them to your vehicle, and then you return it for others to use. And yet, it's not uncommon for many people to ignore the cart receptacle entirely and leave their carts next to their cars or parked haphazardly on medians. During peak hours, it can mean bedlam. Where does this disregard come from?
Go to the registry and pay.
If you think about the physical world, things make kind of sense. You use a home shopping trolley for larger objects, for example, electric appliances — a basket for smaller ones like groceries, and a shopping trolley bag for the smallest items, like clothes.
But why don’t we use the same patterns for digital experiences?