From simple wire frame to smart high-tech trolley

– the evolution of the shopping trolley

“It’s new – it’s sensational.” Those were the words uttered by Sylvan Goldman, owner of the Humpty Dumpty supermarket chain in Oklahoma City on 4 June 1937, as he presented his innovation, the shopping trolley, to the public. Since then it has become an indispensable everyday item and one that is firmly linked with the name of Wanzl. That is because the company has driven the evolution of what is probably the most important shopping aid, becoming the global market leader for the production of shopping trolleys over the course of many decades.

Inspiration was the starting point – Wanzl develops the basis for the shopping trolley of today

The retail sector’s evolution from counter sales to self-service is inconceivable without Wanzl. The introduction of self-service and the development of the shopping trolley heralded a major upheaval for retailers in the mid-20th century. For Wanzl, everything began with a trip to the United States by company co-founder Rudolf Wanzl junior in the early 1950s. There he saw the first shopping trolley in the world and while still on the return flight he designed a more manageable model. With the patented Concentra shopping trolley, Wanzl really caught the spirit of the time. Made of wire, with the ability to be nested and equipped with a fixed basket, he defined the functional principle of every shopping trolley, which has remained largely unchanged to this day. As a result, the success of the self-service shop coincided with the success of the shopping trolley. Since then, the technology and design have been continuously refined and adapted to the current needs of the time.

The individual versatility of the shopping trolley – goods transport made by Wanzl

Not all shopping trolleys are alike. Store type, product line, sales area, location and customer structure influence their size, load capacity, equipment and accessories. The individual configuration options for the various Wanzl shopping trolley series are extensive: with a bottom tray and large loading volume or with a chassis without any storage options to reduce inventory differences? With a wire or plastic basket? With a small basket volume to quickly cover day-to-day purchases or a large one for the weekly grocery shop? With travelator castors to enable the shopping trolley to be used over several floors? With an infant carrier, child seat, bag hook, cup holder and magnifying glass? With a coin deposit system or with a HybridLoc for digital unlocking? With a comfort handle or EvoGrip to support self-scanning? In addition, there are numerous special trolleys for certain store services and customer needs, e.g. children’s shopping trolleys, shopping trolleys for senior citizens and shopping trolleys for customers with limited mobility.

New – the digital shopping trolley from Wanzl as the next evolutionary step

Almost no other mega trend will determine the development of society in the same way as digitalisation. It was therefore only logical that the shopping trolley would become digital, too. But sustainable innovation takes time. That’s why the shopping trolley pioneer Wanzl offers its digital solutions for smart shopping trolleys as modules. Retailers can decide for themselves how smart their trolley should be. In early 2024, Wanzl launched the HybridLoc, a hybrid coin deposit lock with a conventional coin compartment and digital unlocking option. This marked the first step towards making Wanzl's core product, the shopping trolley, smart. The second step will follow in autumn of this year with the launch of an intelligent shopping trolley. Retailers will then be able to rely on proven Wanzl quality when it comes to smart shopping trolleys as well. The focus is on usability and functionality. After all, the smart shopping trolley from Wanzl takes into account shopping habits practised to date and enables retailers to easily introduce and use it in everyday life.