NearSt, saving the UK hight street with online searches


NearSt is a UK retail startup using Google search to save high street stores

Without a doubt, online retail has made life easier for consumers throughout the UK. But the price of this convenient consumer switch has been the steady shutting of high street stores across the UK. In 2018, research by PwC found that almost 2,500 stores disappeared from the UK’s top 500 high streets, causing over 50,000 job losses.

Although some bigger retailers have managed to move online and stay afloat, many local, smaller high street stores are beginning to struggle.

NearSt is a retail-tech London startup using technology to attract people back to the high street.

The company’s CEO and cofounder, Nick Brackenbury, started the company with the central mission of getting people back into high street shops. He realised that every product physically in-store is essentially invisible to internet and set out to illuminate these products to the modern consumer.

After launching in 2015, the startup recently partnered with Google, aiming to stop the downfall of local high street shops.

“What that looks like today is us connecting high street inventory directly into somewhere like Google, so that if you search for products on your phone you don’t just see online results but you actually see whether it’s available in the shop across the road from you, and really building that as a source for the whole world to use,” Brackenbury explains.

Thanks to NearSt, online shoppers can easily use Google search to input products they need urgently, ‘light bulbs’ for example, and receive results of nearby high street stores that have the product stocked.

Because we’re often not sure that a local shop stocks the product we want, many consumers instantly resort to online shopping. “The internet has been completely blind to that information, which is just crazy, so we’re actually making that information visible,” Brackenbury says.

The data provided by NearSt is used by Google for a new service called ‘see what’s in store’. The service allows users to see a live inventory of what’s in stock at stores that are partnered with NearSt.