The Southampton branch of the Co-op’s Welcome convenience store franchise is working with NearSt to show what is in stock in real time directly in Google, so that local shoppers Googling products will see that their local Co-op Welcome store has them in stock.
Store owner Richard Inglis says that the goal is to help drive more footfall from online shippers. “We want to give people searching the online market the assurance they can easily get items they need in our stores,” he says.
The technology works by connecting to a store’s inventory management system and retrieves barcodes, prices and stock levels every few minutes. NearSt then uses this to automatically generate product listings that are fed into Google and targeted at shoppers searching for those products nearby.
The technology is already driving results for Inglis stores. He adds: “NearSt is a lot more productive than other forms of advertising; it’s simple and direct. It gets products in front of local customers as they’re searching.”
Inglis was surprised by just how often his local customers were searching for his products online. In January and February Co-op Welcome’s products were seen in local search results 380,000 times, and over 4000 shoppers went on to seek out further information by clicking on the product, calling the shop, or getting directions to the store. NearSt’s technology calculates that this has driven over 550 customers in-store during January, February and March alone.
NearSt Co-Founder and CEO Nick Brackenbury commented on the results, “Getting your products into Google expands the catchment area of a store and brings in new customers. When people are looking for a specific item and they know a store has that item in stock, they will often travel past the closest destination to get there.”
The new technology also showed which products were popular and that every single product in-store was viewed at least once by customers nearby. Tofu, Whisky and antiseptic cream were among the most popular products. However, it’s not just niche, alcohol and distress products showing up in searches, with staples such as Lucozade receiving over 800 views during the two months measured as customers looked for local availability.
These results come at a time when Google is reporting an 8,000% increase in shoppers searching for “who has ___ in stock”, as part of a pandemic-driven shift towards going online to find things locally.