Lessons from the Humble Shopping Cart

5 02 2013

In 1937, Sylvan Goldman, owner of the Piggly Wiggly supermarket chain, noticed that customers would stop buying more groceries when their arms got too full. He decided the solution would be to create something that would help his customers and, in turn, help him sell more groceries.

Sylvan and an assistant took a wooden chair, put a basket on it, and added wheels to the bottom to form the first crude shopping cart.

But the new invention didn’t catch on like Mr. Goldman had hoped. Men thought the carts were too feminine, and women said the carts reminded them too much of baby strollers. It seemed like the only folks using them were the elderly.

Instead of giving up, Mr. Goldman hired some young male and female models to push the new carts around Piggly Wiggly. The greeters would point out the models to the skeptical shoppers and explain the benefits. In a short time, the shopping carts became very popular, which in turn made Mr. Goldman a very wealthy man.

Here are a few lessons you can apply to your business from this story:

  • Pay close attention to your customers and how they use your products and services.
  • Observe and ask questions.
  • Determine what you can do to make customers’ lives better when using your products and services.

Sometimes an increase in revenues comes from simply helping your clients in small but meaningful ways, like the humble shopping cart.

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