Scattered shopping carts create quite the inconvenience for not only store owners but for customers as well. When carts are not put away in the proper location they are not available for customer use and are often scattered in the parking lot requiring store personnel to run around and collect them. Lost carts found throughout the city are a public nuisance that ordinances are being put into effect requiring stores to manage their shopping carts or they will be fined. Each collection solution has advantages and disadvantages which are detailed further below.
There are a number of effective ways stores can retrieve their carts. Stores can use equipment called a cart pusher, puller, retriever, or cart manager. Stores can also hire additional personnel to physically retrieve the shopping carts scattered throughout the parking lot. Award systems are also used to provide customers with incentives to bring them back to the appropriate destination once they are done using them. Corrals and search teams can also be used to help control wandering carts. Lastly, a pull rope can help employees retrieve shopping carts more efficiently than collecting them individually or just a few at a time.
A motorized cart pusher, also known as a puller, retriever, or cart manager makes retrieving shopping carts safe, fast and easy! Here is how one type of retriever available works: first you place the cart’s back wheels effortlessly into the cart-cradle nesting cups. Some systems require bolting the cart onto the pusher but the nesting cup option protects the grocery-cart from damage that can occur when bolted on as well as gives you availability to use all of your fleet at any time. Next, the rest of the fleet is collected and nested onto the first one that is sitting in the cart-cradle nesting cups. A safety strap is placed over the entire row and attached to the first which is in the nesting cups so they all can be pushed safely to their destination. Some of these pushers utilize a remote control to push the row in the designated direction. Many motorized retrievers are built with a strobe light and brake light to provide greater visibility to those surrounding cars and pedestrians. These retrievers can retrieve a high volume of carts and only one person is needed to operate one. Motorized pushers can retrieve 3 to 4 times more shopping carts than a single person can, thus reducing the store’s labor costs. Retrievers also reduce liabilities from injury as employees can effortlessly retrieve the carts with the use of this type of equipment. No straining comes from pushing or pulling an entire row. The upfront cost to purchase a machine is quickly recouped from the reduced labor and liability costs.
Another method to collect shopping carts is to hire additional personnel to go around the parking lot to retrieve the shopping carts by hand and bring them back to the appropriate location so that they may be available for customer use. This method does however, consume more time due to the fact that the store attendant cannot retrieve a large amount at one time. Having less control over the shopping carts can also lead to potential damages to the carts themselves or surrounding vehicles. This method increases liabilities and can be physically exhausting for the person given the task to collect and unclutter the parking lot. The additional personnel collecting in the parking lot is also not available for customer needs in the store while they are out retrieving carts.
An additional option to retrieve shopping carts is to provide stores’ customers with an incentive to return the carts. Award systems can be used which include a counter and a target. The counter is used to keep track of the number brought back to a destination. The target is the number of carts the store desires the count to reach when returned to a designated area. On each of the grocery-carts is a sensor. The sensor detects the return of it to the designated area. When the return count reaches a predetermined amount an alarm goes off indicating that a prize is to be awarded to the person who brought the count to the designated target number. Although, this system does provide an incentive, many customers are unaware the system even exists and the customer who brings the count to the target number is rewarded solely based on chance.
Cart-corrals provide customers with a more convenient direction as to where the shopping carts should go once they are done using them. Oftentimes customers bring the shopping cart to their cars to easily transport their merchandise. After they transport their goods, they tend to leave the carts in the parking lot near where their car is located instead of hassling with pushing them all the way back to the store and then walking all the way back. Placing cart-corrals around the parking lot provides customers with an effortless, convenient alternative. Cart-corrals provide a solution to help keep parking lots clutter-free. Cart-corrals still require additional store personnel or a cart puller, pusher, or retrieval equipment to transport the shopping carts from the cart-corrals back to the store.
Shopping carts can be expensive to replace. Individuals who take carts off stores’ property create the need for stores to purchase more or they must hire a search team or retrieval company to go around the city to retrieve shopping carts that have been taken off of their property. While hiring a company to retrieve the lost items is effective, the cost can add up quickly since costs are often based per cart retrieved. Stores may also be responsible for any impound fees placed by the city if the city has already found and collected them. The risk, there is also no way to guarantee as to what type of condition each will be returned in as they often end up in waterways or have been used by the homeless population.
Lastly, pull ropes can help employees collect more carts at once. One end of the rope is attached to the last cart while the employee stands at the other end of the row using the rope to help pull the rope. More shopping carts can be collected at once, however, the physical nature of this method lends to increase injury and liability to stores.
Abandoned carts left by shoppers lead to cluttered parking lots, resulting in less parking spaces available for customer use as well as an increase in vehicle and shopping cart damages. Cluttered parking lots also increase liability issues for retailers. It is extremely important for stores to come up with an effective method to retrieve carts to provide clutter-free parking lots, decrease liability, and increase the number of shopping carts available for customer use. A cart pusher, puller, retriever, or cart manager seems to be the most effective solution by providing the fastest, easiest, and most cost effective way to keep store both customers and retailers happy!