Searching tirelessly through your wallet for a gold coin to unlock a shopping trolley may soon be a thing of the past.
New cutting-edge technology has been designed and recently trialled by The Trolley Data Management Network (TDMN) using a coinless trolley lock.
The sMart Lock System uses a QR code via the sMart Shop App where shoppers can make a digital $2 deposit to unlock a trolley.
Once the trolley is returned and relocked, the $2 deposit will be refunded. What about those who don't have a phone? A trolley card has been designed which also gains shoppers coinless access.
GPS tracking system to help find trolleys
The GPS tracking system provides supermarket retailers visibility of abandoned trolleys, giving them the opportunity to avoid huge fines for dumped trolleys that get left in streets, carparks and waterways.
Founder and chief executive of the NSW-based company, Domenic Ammendolia, said there were several factors that influenced his idea for the game-changing technology.
"Years ago I noticed more and more people were paying for goods with their phones but still needed a coin to unlock a trolley," he told Yahoo News Australia.
"I also noticed shopping trolleys were being dumped literally everywhere in communities, and the only way retailers knew about them was if a member of the community reported the dumped trolley via a third party. It just didn’t make sense to me."
How will it improve the shopping experience?
Mr Ammendolia set about developing a system that would protect store assets and save retailers time and money, create a simple user experience for shoppers and protect the environment.
"Shoppers won’t struggle with remembering to grab a coin, or resort to trying to ‘hack’ into a trolley lock, and if the retailer wants to shoppers can earn reward points for returning their trolley," he explains.
"It’s a win for retailers, win for shoppers, and a huge win for the environment."
A five-month trial of the GPS technology was successfully carried out at the Harris Farm Markets recently.
"We are currently preparing to go live with Harris Farm Cammeray in early 2022 with our GPS tracking technology," Mr Ammendolia says.
"We are working with several large independent retailers across the country who are keen to introduce our technology to their customers."
Other retailers Australia-wide and overseas are now looking to implement the world-first technology.
Coles and Woolworths investigating trolley technology
Coles and Woolworths are exploring different types of shopping trolley technology to introduce to stores.
“Coles is trialling a number of different methods to make it more convenient for customers to access trolleys and reduce the number abandoned in the community,” a Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
“We continuously assess our trolley management and take local feedback into account when deciding what trolley management methods to deploy at any of our stores.”
Meanwhile, a Woolworths spokesperson said they were also investigating the different technology options available.
“Trolleys are provided for the convenience of our customers and the vast majority do the right thing in returning them,” the spokesperson said.
“We know abandoned trolleys can be a nuisance and that’s why we invest millions in collection services to help mitigate their impact in local communities.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve trolley management, and will continue to actively monitor new technology and systems in the space.”
Yahoo News Australia understands that budget supermarket Aldi, which has a gold coin trolly management system in every store, has no plans to change the system currently used.
Why are stores looking at trolley technology?
One of the most appealing aspects of the sMart Lock Technology is the GPS tracking system, which can be used to locate and pick up dumped trolleys.
The new Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Bill 2021 was introduced into NSW Parliament this week, making laws considerably tougher.
Under the new legislation, a three-hour collection time limit will be put on trolleys, vehicles or other items causing a safety hazard, and a seven-day limit for others.
Supermarkets such as Woolworths, Coles or Aldi can face fines ranging from $660 to $13,750 for abandoned trolleys, depending on the nature, number and time the items remained uncollected.
Currently, one of the most popular ways to recover dumped trolleys is via the Trolley Tracker app, which relies on community members to report abandoned trolleys.
As an incentive, community members go into the draw to win a $1,000 prize each time they use the app.
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