Retailers designed attractive shop fronts to entice patronage, using bright lights, advertisements and attractively arranged goods. The goods on offer were in a constant state of change, due to the frenetic change in fashions. A foreign visitor thought that London was "A world of gold and silver plate, then pearls and gems shedding their dazzling lustre, home manufactures of the most exquisite taste, an ocean of rings, watches, chains, bracelets, perfumes, ready-dresses, ribbons, lace, bonnets, and fruits from all the zones of the habitable world".

Le Bon Marché, founded in Paris, offered a wide variety of goods in "departments" inside one building, from 1851. The next stage in shopping was the transition from 'single-function' shops selling one type of good, to the department store where a large variety of goods were sold, ordered by department. As economic growth, fueled by the Industrial Revolution at the turn of the 19th-century, steadily expanded, the affluent bourgeois middle-class grew in size and wealth. This urbanized social group was the catalyst for the emergence of the retail revolution of the period. The first reliably dated department store to be established, was Harding, Howell & Co, which opened in 1796 on Pall Mall, London.

This venture was described as being a public retail establishment offering a wide range of consumer goods in different departments. This pioneering shop was closed down in 1820 when the business partnership was dissolved. Department stores were established on a large scale from the 1840s and 50s, in France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In recent years, many off the shelf software solutions have been developed that allow website owners to take price comparison websites' inventory data to place retailer prices (context adverts) on their blog or content the only website. In return, the content website owners receive a small share of the revenue earned by the price comparison website. This is often referred to as the revenue share business model.

Another approach is to crawl the web for prices. This means the comparison service scans retail web pages to retrieve the prices, instead of relying on the retailers to supply them. This method is also sometimes called 'scraping' information. Some, mostly smaller, independent sites solely use this method, to get prices directly from the websites that it is using for the comparison.

In 2009 researchers developed prototypes of computerized context aware shopping carts by attaching tablet computers to ordinary carts. Initial field trials showed that the prototype's context awareness provided an opportunity for enhancing and altering the shopping experience.

Some retailers, such as Target, have begun using carts fully made of recycled plastic with the only metal part being the wheel axles, drawing away from the established metal cart design. Target's cart has won design awards for its improved casters, interchangeable plastic parts to simplify repairs, and handles that improve maneuverability. Other cart designs also incorporate additional features such as a cupholder for cold or hot drinks or a bouquet of flowers, along with other features such as a secure shelf for a tablet computer or mobile phone to allow the use of mobile coupons and circulars, or as seen in a all-plastic design created for the Wisconsin-based Festival Foods and also used by Whole Foods Market by Bemis Manufacturing Company, all of these features, along with extra rungs on the side rail designed to attach plastic bags or carry handles for beverages. Smaller half-sized carts for smaller shopping trips have also become common.

In many countries, the customer has to pay a small deposit by inserting a coin, token or card, which is returned if and when the customer returns the cart to a designated cart parking point. One motivation behind the deposit system is to reduce the expense of employees having to gather carts that are not returned, and to avoid damage done by runaway carts. Trolleys that are not returned may be returned voluntarily by a pedestrian, with the deposit coin acting as a reward.

Although almost ubiquitous in continental Europe, the deposit system is less common in the United Kingdom and Canada and has not been widely adopted in the United States, with the exception of some chains like Aldi, which require a $0.25 deposit. Other stores such as Costco and ShopRite also use the coin deposit system, but it is not used at all of their locations.

In Australia, deposit systems are common in some local government areas as they have been made compulsory by local law. Usually, all ALDI stores, and most Coles and Safeway stores will have a lock mechanism on their carts which requires a $1 or $2 coin to unlock.

The deposit varies, but usually coins of higher value, such as €1, £1, or $1 are used. While the deposit systems usually are designed to accommodate a certain size of domestic coin, foreign coins, former currencies (like German D-Marks), or even appropriately folded pieces of cardboard can be used to unlock the carts as well. Cart collectors are also usually provided with a special key which they can use to unlock the carts from the cart bay and get the key back.

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