For decades now, there has been an ongoing, sometimes vitriolic debate among shoppers about whether or not retail and grocery stores should carry mini shopping carts for kids. And the jury is still out. Today, shoppers will encounter stores both big and small that either offer these small carts, never carried them in the first place, or used to have them but no longer do for various reasons.
If you own or manage a retail store, this issue is of particular concern to your bottom line. After all, some shoppers are actively seeking stores with more kid-friendly options, while others would rather steer clear of these tiny vehicles and the kids operating them. So, the question remains: should you carry mini shopping carts for kids?
To help you find the right answer for your needs, let’s break down the potential drawbacks and advantages involved in this dilemma.
Drawbacks of Carrying Mini Carts for Kids
Investing in mini carts for kids might sound like a flawless idea. But you may in fact wind up with a number of small carts in a warehouse somewhere after pulling them from your stores. Here are some reasons why this could happen.
Simply put, shopping carts and shopping baskets take up space. Of course, it’s necessary to carry some number of baskets and carts for your shoppers so they can comfortably check off their grocery list as they shop. However, retailers and grocers have to keep every square inch of space in mind to optimize the customer experience and their bottom line.
Implementing shopping carts and baskets for kids might be a great idea in theory, but those extra objects have to go somewhere. You could opt to only carry a small number of these mini carts, but then you might deal with complaints from parents and/or their children who miss out. The key is finding the right balance between saving space but providing enough carts for the younger demographic.
Speaking of customer complaints, not every shopper will be thrilled with the notion of kids pushing small carts around at high speeds and with little care for personal space. Now, every child is different. Most parents know whether or not their kids are mature and aware enough to handle operating small carts on their own. That said, there are plenty of kids without such capacities who might wind up with a cart anyway. These little carts can become a real nuisance and obstacle to shoppers who just want to go through the aisles in peace, but have to instead navigate a minefield of small carts to get their goods.
Not too long ago, Target actually removed their kiddie carts from all their stores after receiving a barrage of negative feedback from customers. The experiment only lasted a few weeks, too, indicating just how poorly it went for them. There are, of course, a number of reasons why these carts may not have worked at Target while they may have worked better elsewhere. But the bottom line is that some customers will inevitably complain if you provide these carts in your stores.
Potential Safety Hazards
These little carts can also be dangerous. While it’s unlikely that anyone will get run over by a mini shopping cart, there have been plenty of cases of bruised ankles, stubbed toes, slips and falls, and fallen objects as a result of some sloppy driving. The child operators are at risk of injury, too. These are all liabilities retailers and grocers should already know about and have to deal with regarding their regular carts anyway. Still, letting kids run around with small shopping carts ultimately increases this safety risk.
Advantages of Carrying Mini Carts for Kids
It’s not all bad, though. In fact, plenty of stores still carry mini carts for kids because, frankly, they’re good for business. Let’s go over some reasons to invest in these kid-friendly carts.
Keep Children Active and Occupied
Every family is different, but plenty of parents dread taking their kids along on shopping trips. Still, they don’t always have a choice. The challenge is typically finding a way to keep tabs on their children while also keeping them occupied so they don’t slow down the process too much. As it turns out, mini carts for kids might offer the perfect solution, as long as the child is old enough to handle them.
First off, mini carts give kids something to do with their hands, so they’re not grabbing at every item, surface, or person they come across. These kid carts are also highly visible, so if parents have to take their eyes off their child for a moment, it’s much easier to pinpoint where they’ve gone. And lastly, these carts encourage kids to walk and exercise a bit instead of just riding along in large shopping carts with seats.
Boost Your Brand Reputation and Loyalty
The point made above is notable for retailers and grocers because it depicts an improved customer experience, at least for those with children. And the happier your customers are, the more likely they are to continue shopping at your store(s) and spread the word about your kid-friendly offerings. In other words, carrying mini carts for kids can boost your reputation both online and offline. Plus, those kids who enjoy mimicking their parents as they shop are likely to grow up loyal to your brand as well.
An Educational Experience
While retail stores aren’t exactly in the teaching business, allowing kids to “shop on their own” is an important educational experience that will help them grow into young adulthood and beyond. Learning how to navigate a store with a cart in hand, respect the personal space of fellow shoppers, and find the items you’re looking for are all valuable skills. Helping to teach younger people is inherently good, but it also contributes to your overall reputation in the industry.
While it may not have worked for Target or some other stores, carrying mini carts and even mini shopping baskets has worked for plenty of other businesses, and it could work for yours. The answer depends on your unique needs and customer base. If you’re tight on space and your store doesn’t see many children, there may be no good reason to implement carts for kids. But if you have enough space and a large population of shoppers with children, investing in these carts might be a big win for you. Just be sure to team up with the right cart and basket provider if you decide to provide these carts in your stores.
Good L Corporation delivers innovative shopping cart and basket solutions for retailers on a global scale. From a fleet of new custom carts to launch your store opening to replacement baskets that supplement your existing shop supply, Good L Corp can configure the right carryall strategy to boost your retail business. Let’s get started! Contact us today for a no-pressure sales quote.