Retail tech start-up NearSt aims to add £4billon in sales for high street retailers in the UK by connecting products in local shops to smartphones. The platform allows people to order products for instant collection and one-hour delivery, beating any existing offer from online platforms such as Amazon.
NearSt, which is backed by TrueStart, Europe’s leading retail and consumer accelerator and investment fund, has today launched its website, www.near.st and mobile app through which consumers – initially in London, but rolling out elsewhere as the investment rolls in – will be able to buy books across the city and later this month expanding to thousands more products including consumer electronics, DIY goods, health & beauty products, sportswear, stationary and gift shop services.
Brick-and-mortar shops up and down UK high streets have suffered in recent years from the rise of online marketplaces, something NearSt aims to change by bringing business back to their door step.
With the growth of on-demand shopping, “research online-purchase offline” behaviour, and local ‘near me’ searches, NearSt believes now is the perfect time for shops to take the fight back to the likes of Amazon.
The NearSt technology, called NearLive, enables any shop to set-up and start selling real-time inventory to shoppers through www.near.st and the app, in less than 10 minutes.
Shoppers simply search for something they want, see where it’s in stock nearby, and in a few taps order it for 1-hour delivery or instant collection.
Nick Brackenbury, chief executive at NearSt explains: “Why should anyone wait for a package to arrive from across the world, when you can instantly get it from a shop minutes away from you? The only thing missing is a simple connection between products on the shelves of real nearby businesses and shoppers’ smartphones.”
This month, Amazon announced it would open more physical stores. The team at NearSt thinks that this can’t compete with the millions of local shops already stocking what people are looking for.
“NearSt isn’t shying away from going head-to-head with Amazon. While we are currently focussing on growth in London, we are actively working on wider coverage of our offer in cities across the UK and Europe. Our 2020 ambition is to have every product, in every shop, on every high street easily available through NearSt.”
“Retail industry marketers have gone full-circle in their search to optimise the customer journey, with convenience the new focus of innovation. As shoppers increasingly demand products when they want them, where they want them, the advantage in retail is rapidly swinging back to high street shops to fulfill this need. NearSt is perfectly placed to serve this trend and unlock the value to retailers,” adds Brackenbury.
Baz Saidieh, CEO of TrueStart, says: “At TrueStart we look to work with genuinely disruptive and innovative businesses, and NearSt is no exception. The team has identified a challenge within the direct-to-consumer search and delivery model and has built a platform which will enable any customer anywhere, to find, buy and receive the items they want in almost an instant.”
Saidieh, continues: “By tapping into the I-want-it-now mindset of today’s consumer, which is increasingly coupled with a desire to support local businesses, NearSt is effectively building the technology that will help to power the future of retail, and it is getting shoppers back to the High Street.”
NearSt has successfully piloted the technology with bookshops in London and is already processing over 3-million live inventory updates daily. Founded in 2015, NearSt is backed by Europe’s leading retail accelerator, TrueStart – part of retail Private Equity firm True Capital. Earlier this year NearSt were also nominated for an Accenture Consumer Innovation Award.