Soon you’ll be able to browse your local high street via Google
London-based startup NearSt has found support from search behemoth Google in its mission to revive the UK high street.
NearSt’s core USP is allowing shoppers to view the stock of local stores while they shop online. The startup lets you check an items availability and price in any of its supported stores, and it’s always up to date thanks to a direct link to a store’s point of service (POS) system. Because of this connection to a store’s digital inventory file, customers can check if the product they’re looking for is in stock before committing to a journey to the shop or buying online and waiting for it to be delivered
Now NearSt’s tech is coming to Google Search.. This digital inventory adds to pre-existing information Google provides, including average time spent and location, and lets customers search for a particular item or browse the shop’s stock.
Currently, this service is limited in its reach. The majority of shops listed by NearSt are bookshops or health & beauty stores, the majority of which are based in London. However, the startup hopes to expand now that Google is involved, with plans to function across the UK in the next year.
NearSt’s goal is to help save the high street, which has been in dire straits since Amazon and other online retailers began offering convenience and low prices. The Office for National Statistics shows that only 18% of retail sales were online in October 2018. There’s also a regular 3% spike each November for Black Friday so it’s likely we’ll close 2018 at around 21% instead. These figures show that high street stores and shopping isn’t necessarily dead, but the slow increase in online sales over time does show that the high street needs to work hard to stay relevant and avoid even more closures.
By providing independent retailers with the convenience the internet provides, NearSt hopes to empower these smaller shops to remain competitive against online sales. This team-up will also help Google, whose Shopping tools have traditionally fared poorly compared to Amazon’s.