With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating retail in the e-commerce sector, store vacancy rates are at the highest they have ever been.
To save the bricks-and-mortar retail, NearSt has introduced a new technology that allows physical retailers to show in-store inventories to local customers searching for products on Google.
Using Google Local Inventory Ads, the tech system can promote currently available items from nearby shops and thereby attract local shoppers.
NearSt is a London-based retail technology start-up that connects real-time inventories of bricks-and-mortar stores to the internet via search engines, making local shoppers to visit physical retail stores.
The first trial was recently organised in some of London’s famous shopping streets, mainly in Mayfair and Belgravia. The trial worked at driving online shoppers into 15 bricks-and-mortar stores, catering to fashion, jewelry, health and beauty retailers.
Nick Brackenbury, Co-founder and CEO at NearSt spoke on how the trial had higher than expected impacts as the entire street functioned together in regaining its physical footfall, as shoppers went online to look for products in nearby local stores.
He added, “We were pleased to see generic online shopping search terms, like ‘velvet dress’, ‘earrings and ‘necklace’ all driving footfall into the area.”
For many of the customers, the shopping journeys started with a purchase intention, leading to virtual browsing, and eventually visiting physical retail stores and, therefore, sales.
The shoppers also relished the transparency of knowing the availability of products in various styles and sizes at the stores before leaving their houses, and the arrangements for the articles to be available as per their exclusive requests.
With its success in increasing the high-street footfall, the technology is expected to be implemented to other shopping districts soon. Nick expects to overcome the low entry barrier existing in the market, and says, “Within two to three years, having a live view of what’s on a shop’s shelves visible in places like Google, Facebook, Instagram and others will be a basic expectation – much like having opening hours and telephone numbers on Google Maps today.”