An interesting interplay of product design, user experience, and theft occurs in the unlikely “shopping cart” world, specifically in urban areas.
As you see in this photo below, these gates outside a local convenience store prevent customers from removing shopping carts from the area immediately in front of the store.
Unfortunately the gates also prevent the carts even from being rolled to the parking lot, so if you’re buying anything heavy, you better count on having to lift and carry it out to your car. Cart theft is still possible, but one would have to lift the carts above the gates, which I guess is enough of a deterrent.
Presumably, in general the store seeks to provide the best shopping experience for its customers, however, it has to counter-balance that goal with the need to make money. When theft of shopping carts becomes prevalent enough that offering carts for customer use becomes an unmanageable cost, they need to either stop providing carts, or this solution!
Two additional observations:
- Note the handicapped space left in the gates. Here concern for customer well-being (or federal regulation) re-enters the picture from a new direction. I didn’t try it, but it looks like the carts would fit easily through this larger gate.
- The photo below shows a different store, where some gates still exist, but half of the enclosure was either torn down, or never built. Did someone decide that the increased risk of theft was worth it, in order to provide a better shopping experience?