Do you ever think about what kind of quality assurance goes into a product before a shop chooses to sell it to their customers?

No? 

To be honest – neither do I!

But last week I overheard one of our owners, Darren, showing the below example to a customer and I thought it was interesting.

It’s a great example of the work, and trial and error, that goes on behind the scenes to give our customers a quality product. It’s also an excellent example as to why sometimes paying a little more for a product is worth it in the long run.

If you are anything like me, you wander into a grocery store, pick up a plastic shopping basket by the front door (usually one of those red or blue ones), and very little thought goes into the basket itself. You are more focussed on your shopping list, finding the products you need, and getting out of there! 

But when you really think about it, it’s a big part of the customers shopping experience. 

The size is important. It should be big enough to fit as many products as possible, without it becoming too heavy and cumbersome. 

The durability is important. It needs to be strong and sturdy to make sure that when it’s full to the brim it doesn’t break. 

And it needs to be comfortable for the customer to hold as they are walking around the shop. 

They also need to stack well and ideally be easy for the staff to move them around once they are stacked in large piles. 

Here we discuss how we ended up stocking our much-loved shopping basket. 

If you prefer to watch, rather than read, take a look at the video below!

Our first plastic basket prototype was very basic. It was quite small, with a thin plastic basket area and plastic handles. Although our customers liked the price point of this product, we were soon getting complaints that it was too small. 

red plastic shopping basket

Of course, as a retailer, what you want is your customers to be able to fit as much as possible into their baskets, so we took this information onboard, passed the information onto our supplier, and made the size bigger.

The basket we received back was identical to the first one, just a bigger size. 

blue plastic shopping basket

Ironically, while our customers loved that the baskets were bigger, they found that because they held a higher volume of product, once they were filled, the handles were bending, and in some cases, snapping. 

Can you imagine how frustrating it would be for a customer to fill their shopping basket only for it to break and spill all over the floor?! It resulted in broken merchandise, frustrated customers, and an all-round a difficult experience. 

So we gave the feedback to our supplier that we needed the same size basket, but with a metal handle.

What happened next was a perfect example as to why it’s best to leave businesses to source you the best product, rather than buying direct from China!

retail shopping basket faulty

Our first prototype with the metal handle was a disaster. The metal handle had been made too big for the plastic frame of the basket, resulting in it repeatedly slipping out. 

It was a clear design fault that needed to be fixed.

We thought we had nailed it with the 4thprototype. 

shopping basket with metal handle blue

The right size, sturdy plastic, and metal handles that looped around to ensure that they couldn’t fall out. 

But then our customers gave us the feedback that while the metal handles were what they wanted, they were much harder on the hands than the plastic, and when the basket was full it was uncomfortable to hold. In addition, in some of the cooler areas of Australia, the bare metal was too cold against the customers hands.

After taking this onboard, we suggested to our supplier that the area where the customer holds the basket be coated in a soft plastic.

This is how we ended up with our final design that ticks all the boxes:

The right size.

A sturdy plastic basket.

Strong metal handles coated in plastic.

red retail plastic basket with metal handles

Although it was a rather long process to get the best quality plastic shopping basket for our customer, we think the hard work was worth it, and our customer feedback has been excellent. It has resulted in a great product that will last our clients many, many years.

Questions or comments? Please get in touch via our contact page!