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Effective Ways to Collect Shopping Carts

Updated on May 26, 2009

Shopping Cart Retrieval

Stores are facing a number of problems when it comes to managing their shopping carts. Oftentimes, store customers do not bring their shopping carts back to the designated area after they use them.  Some stores do not have enough shopping carts for their customers becuase of this. Shopping carts left in lots lead to cluttered parking lots and therefore less parking spaces available for future customers, thus frustrating customers.  Retrieving shopping carts can take a lot of time and physical effort for the store's cart attendant. Fortunately, there are a number of solutions, some more effective than others, to manage  shopping carts. Motorized cart pushers, coin locks, electronic systems and search teams, award systems for customers, employees retrieving carts, and pull ropes are a handful of ways to manage shopping carts.

Shopping Cart Pusher, Cart Puller, or Cart Retriever

Employees strain no more, cart pusher solutions such as Gatekeeper Systems' CartManager™ make retrieving shopping carts quick and easy. The CartManager cart pusher works by placing the shopping cart's wheels effortlessly into the cart pusher's nesting cups on the CartManager, protecting them from damage that occurs when the carts are bolted in. Additional carts can then be nested together and secured with a restraint strap for better control over the additional shopping carts attached to the CartManager, increasing safety. The CartManager requires only one person to operate reducing employees needed to collect carts. The cart pusher can retrieve up to 3 to 4 times the amount of shopping carts as a single person resulting in shorter collection time and leaving employees available to customers. The CartManager comes with an easy to use remote control as well as has an emergency stop button on the machine for additional safety. Simply press the button to push the row of carts to the appropriate destination. Release the button or push the stop button to stop the movement of carts if necessary. The CartManager has a safety strobe light and brake light tower that flashes maximizing visibility to all makes and models of cars and minimizing parking lot accidents. The cart pusher maximizes shopping cart inventory and leaves the parking lot free from rouge carts. It take less time and fewer store personnel to retrieve carts when utilizing a cart pusher. On average retailers report a 50 percent reduction in labor hours using the CartManager. The battery can operate up to 12 hours on a single charge.


Coin Lock

Coin lock solutions such as CartLock, found available from Gatekeeper Systems, encourages customers to return their shopping carts. The cart lock is attached to each shopping cart connected by a chain. To release the chain from the coin lock, customers must insert a coin in the CartLock. Once the customer returns the shopping cart, they will get their coin back. This system provides incentive for customers to bring their carts back to the appropriate destination because they will lose their coin if they do not. This system does require the customer to have a coin on them in order to use the shopping cart, while some customers may find that making the journey to return the shopping cart is not worth the coin, most often some helpful shopper will think the effort is worth the now free coin. The CartLock coin locking system leads to clutter-free parking lots increasing available parking spaces for customers and decreasing the chances of damaged shopping carts or shopping carts potentially damaging customer vehicles. Coin locks are especially popular in European countries but are growing in the US as they are a low cost solution to manage shopping carts.

Electronic Equipment and Search Teams

The electronic equipment and search team is a system that requires two separate units that together form a retrieval system. The first unit is the VHF "beacon" radio transmitter that sends out a signal when the shopping cart leaves the store. The second unit of the system is the search team. The search team's responsibility is to locate and recover the stray shopping carts. While this system informs employees the shopping cart has left the vicinity, it still has the capabilities to leave the store and requires personnel to retrieve the cart. This system is only effective within a certain distance to the store.

Award System

An award system includes a counter and a target. The counter determines the specific number of shopping carts that are accounted for. A target is mounted to each shopping cart while a sensor (located in the designated cart return area) detects the return of each shopping cart. Whenever the count in the counter reaches the predetermined random number, an alarm is activated indicating that a prize is awarded to that person returning the cart to the designated area. This system does provide some incentive for customers to return shopping carts, however, most customers are unaware of the existence of the award system and the prize only goes to the one lucky person who brings the count to the predetermined number.  The system is based on chance.  The award given also helps determine how successful the system will be.  The greater the reward, the greater the likelihood customers will want to try to win the prize.

Employees Manually Retrieve Shopping Carts

The solution to retrieving shopping carts may seem obvious, hire an employee to push or pull a column of nested shopping carts from various collection areas located throughout the parking lot. The difficulty in this task increases when the number of carts being pushed or pulled becomes greater and greater. Even with more than one worker, the collecting and guiding of long columns of carts is difficult and time consuming. Furthermore, in large parking lots, workers must push or pull the column of carts great distances. The retrieval task can be physically exhausting and may result in injury to the workers costing the store untold amounts of liability costs. Carts also can be damaged as the workers struggle to push or pull long columns to the store door, not to mention the damage shopping carts can have on the automobiles in the parking lot if the worker does not have complete control.

Shopping Cart Corrals

Shoppping cart corrals are another solution for managing carts by providing customers with a convenient place to return carts rather than leaving them scattered throughout the parking lot. Cart corrals help reduce auto damage claims, shopping cart loss, grocery cart damage, labor costs for collecting grocery carts, and provide more parking spaces available during peak hours. The downside to shopping cart corrals however, is it still requires employees to manually relocate those shopping carts closer to the store for convenient customer use which can lead to an increase in liabilities due to injuries.

Shopping Cart Retrieval Rope

Employees who manually retrieve shopping carts can use a rope to pull more than one shopping cart at a time. This reduces the amount of time it takes employees to retrieve carts and maximizes shopping cart inventory for customer use. Using a rope to retrieve shopping carts however, increases the risk of injuries and accidents. The use of a rope requires the person retrieving the carts to physically pull the row of carts adding much strain to a person's back as shopping carts, especially when made from steel, can weigh quite a bit. Pulling the rope requires employees oftentimes to walk backwards increasing the chance of an accident. This solution has no emergency stop on the shopping carts giving the employee very little control and also increasing the stores chance of injury due to the strain from cart retrieval.

Have you ever seen an employee having difficulty or struggling or straining when collecting shopping carts?

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