With consumers confined to their homes due to pandemic, many companies are riding the wave of demand for online. One such company making use of it is the London-headquartered NearSt.
Founded by Max Kreijn and Nick Brackenbury in 2015, NearSt is a British retail technology business driving more people onto the high street to fuel footfall into bricks and mortar stores at a critical time for physical retailers. It further connects every product in every shop worldwide to the web, making it easy for the consumers to find something they want nearby.
Raised £2 million
Recently, the Google-backed company raised £2 million in the latest seed funding round. This round brings the total funding raised to £5 million. The funding round was backed by Grosvenor Group, retail specialists True Global, consumer tech specialists YYX Capital and Moscar Capital.
Marking Grosvenor Group’s first direct investment into the tech sector, the international property company is already using NearSt’s technology across its Mayfair and Belgravia estate, with plans to expand internationally.
How will the funding be used?
The London-born startup witnessed a tripling in demand from shoppers seeking out local product availability in 2020. The company will use the cash injection to accelerate uptake by retailers in the UK with a wave of new hires and launch the startup’s offering internationally.
How NearSt technology works?
The company’s technology enables physical retailers to show live in-store inventory to people searching online nearby. Shops install a small piece of powerful software that automatically connects to any type of shop point of sale or inventory management system.
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Shortly after, stores start seeing their entire in-store inventory appear in local search results, sending nearby shoppers in-store who might otherwise have ordered online.
As per the company’s claims, the technology has seen widespread uptake by British retailers as a low-effort but powerful tool to fight back against the likes of Amazon, with retailers spanning convenience, DIY and garden centres, health, pharmacies, and even luxury fashion and jewellers all using the platform.
It is used by convenience stores such as Nisa, Londis, and Budgens through to luxury boutiques like Creed, Christopher Kane, and Hirsh.
Works with Google and Facebook
The search engine giants Google also use the technology to show real-time local product availability directly in search results. The company is also working with social media giant Facebook on their Commerce Accelerator to help drive Facebook’s local shopping capabilities forward.
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NearSt’s funding comes at a time of seismic shifts in how we shop and what it means to be a retailer.” said co-founder Nick Brackenbury.
“In the first lockdown customers searching for products nearby surged 620% compared to February levels, before levelling off at a 270% increase between July and September.”
“While this most recent lockdown has driven another 500% surge, what’s clear is that shoppers are getting used to going online to find things in the local businesses they prefer to buy from.”
Ian Mair, Managing Director of Digital Innovation at Grosvenor Group, added “We are putting the customer at the heart of our thinking and are creating innovative ways to make the physical shopping experience more efficient and enjoyable. Making it easier for customers to find items they are looking for in local shops will encourage them on to their local high street rather than ordering online.”
One time fee of £399
Currently, each shop pays a one-time connection fee of £399. The NearSt’s core search product is free, with the option of purchasing weekly add-ons to drive additional local visibility. In addition to listing a shop’s products in Google, NearSt also provides detailed insights to the retailer about what’s popular with customers searching nearby.