Test the Theory

As you think about your own workplace, or perhaps a workplace that you visited recently, you are probably aware of potential efficiencies. For example, I was recently at a supermarket where the shopping carts used to be tethered together in a corral in the parking lot. To use a shopping cart at this store, you must put two quarters into the cart. After unloading your purchases into your car, you return the cart to the corral, connect it to a chain or another cart, and your coins pop out of the cart. The shopping carts cost more than $1,000 each, so the system was designed so that people who walked to the store didn’t take the carts home with them and simply dump them somewhere. It’s a decent system, as long as shoppers remember to bring coins with them.

However, in this particular store, they needed to remove the cart corrals in the parking lot to open up additional parking spaces to meet the demand of more shoppers and the municipal bylaws for parking lots. Now, when shoppers get to the store they find the carts inside the lobby. But, after unloading groceries at their car, customers now have to return to the inside of the store, and then head back into the parking lot to return to their vehicle. The result has been that people who would rather not walk all the way back inside the store (such as those with small children) will abandon their carts in the lot, at the cost of losing their money. The store now needs an employee regularly gathering loose carts in the parking lot so they do not roll into cars.