From simple wire frame to smart, high-tech cart

– the evolution of the shopping cart

“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 June 4, 1937, as he presented his innovation, the shopping cart, to the public. Since then, it has become an indispensable everyday item and one that is firmly linked with the name 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 carts over many decades.

Inspiration is what started it all – Wanzl develops the basis for the shopping cart of today

The retail sector’s evolution from counter sales to self-service is inconceivable without Wanzl. The introduction of self-service and the shopping cart's development 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 world's first shopping cart and, while still on the return flight, he designed a more agile model. With the patented Concentra shopping cart, 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 cart, which has remained largely unchanged to this day. As a result, the success of the self-service store coincided with the success of the shopping cart. Since then, the technology and the design have been continuously refined and adapted to the current needs of the time.

The customizable versatility of the shopping cart – goods transport made by Wanzl

Not all shopping carts are alike. Store type, product line, sales area, location and customer structure influence their size, load capacity, equipment and accessories. The custom configuration options for the various Wanzl shopping cart product lines are vast: with a bottom tray and large loading volume or with a chassis with no storage options to reduce inventory differences? With a wire or plastic basket? With a small basket volume to quickly purchase day-to-day necessities or a large one for the weekly grocery shop? With travelator casters to allow the shopping cart to be used over several floors? With a baby seat, child safety 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 carts for certain store services and customer needs, e.g. children’s shopping carts, shopping carts for senior citizens and shopping carts for customers with limited mobility.

New – Wanzl's digital shopping cart as the next evolutionary step

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