Giulia Magnani London 06/08/2018
This week we look into how technology can tap into retail’s revolution and resuscitate our “dead” high streets.
We spoke to Nick Brackenbury, co-founder and CEO of NearSt.
He told us about how at NearSt they are revolutionising the way people shop, by bringing them back to local shops and “unlocking the hidden value of our high streets”.
The Light Bulb Moment
Max Kreijn, also co-founder of NearSt, was at home when all of a sudden his light bulb broke, leaving him in the dark.
As probably the most automatic and reflex-like gesture, Max took out his phone and googled “lightbulb near me”.
“No results” was what he got.
He then decided to take a walk around his neighbourhood and look for it himself, surrendering to the “old-fashioned way”.
45 minutes, 6 different shops, and who knows how many blocks later, Max finally found what he was looking for, only to realize it was located just 100 m from his front door.
Back home, he thought to himself how absurd it was that it would have been easier for him to get it online, maybe 100 km away, than just down the road.
Thus, the beginning of NearSt.
The Solution for Retail
Founded in 2015, NearSt is a retail technology company that is enabling people to find products in local shops in an easier and faster way than by ordering them online.
Currently it works with stores all across London, providing their real time inventory to consumers. With just one tap on their cell phone, shoppers are able to find what they need in the nearest available store, making buying simple, quick, and efficient.
Nick tells us how one of the main benefits that will come from the development and use of NearSt is the effect it will have on city high streets.
Healthy and lively high streets serve a fundamental function within any city, Nick explains. In the latest years, following the rise of online shops, they’ve been claimed “dead” or “ghostly”, by most of the biggest news outlets.
According to the BBC, 20% of the market is now held by online stores, threatening the survival of local shops, and, with them, local jobs. Business insider reports that already by the first quarter of 2017, the number of people working in retail shops, fell by around 2.4%.
Although the data is striking, Nick says retail and high streets are not over.
The Meeting Point
He tells us how this is an incredible moment and opportunity for NearSt to accommodate the real needs and desires of both buyers and retailers.
Customers probably value the convenience the internet has to offer, but, as human beings, they are always looking to find experiences, expertise and human exchange: things that can only be found when setting foot into a physical store.
NearSt offers shoppers a perfect combination of both: convenience of tracking products in just a split second, accompanied by the sentiment of walking inside an actual store.
Nick explains how, although retail is a multi-trillion dollar industry globally, the systems and data it is built on are still very archaic and difficult to both work with and change.
“Solving for an issue so widely spread and so deeply rooted was tough” - he tells us.
The technology behind NearSt, called NearLIVE, is what makes this product possible and so powerful: revolutionizing retail, changing how people interact, turning high streets into a healthy part of our cities again. A symbol of flourishment and exchange.
Light bulb near me? - “No problem!”