Adjusting the shopping trolley can increase sales by a quarter?


Shopping trolleys have been getting it wrong for decades. Researchers from Bayes Business School conclude that shoppers spend a quarter more when the horizontal handle get replaced with parallel handles.


Push or pull

Just by changing the handles on a shopping trolley, consumers spend up to a quarter more. Using a conventional shopping trolley, shoppers in a test supermarket spent an average of 22 pounds. When using a trolley with side handles (like a wheelbarrow), the spending increased to 29 pounds. This was shown in a sample of more than 2,300 shoppers.


How is that possible? It can be explained biologically and psychologically, according to researchers from London's Bayes Business School. The horizontal bar that we find on most supermarket trolleys appeals to the triceps muscle in the upper arm. People use this muscle to push things away or keep them at bay, and thus it is associated in our brain with rejection. Therefore, a negative attitude.


"A shocking find"

Parallel handles on the sides of the shopping trolley, on the other hand, activate the biceps. This muscle has a positive association as people also use those muscles to pull things towards them or hold close. Retailers can therefore sell more if they simply adjust the handle of their shopping trolleys.


"It is shocking to find that making a small change to the position of handles can have such a large impact on shoppers' spending. Indeed, the handles literally cause us to flex our shopping muscles", said Zachary Estes, professor of marketing at Bayes Business School, who published the results in the Journal of Marketing.

Image: Bayes Business School