NearSt raises £2m to grow local stock-check tech

NearSt, a retail technology business backed by Google has raised £2 million in seed funding.

The London-based company, which enables physical retailers to show shop stock directly in online search results and Google maps, said the seed funding round led by Grosvenor Group, one of the world’s largest privately-owned international property companies, would enable it to grow its services at a critical time for physical retailers.

NearSt’s technology aims to fuel footfall into bricks and mortar retail locations by showing live in-store inventory information to people searching for goods nearby rather than waiting for online deliveries.

The latest funding takes the total raised by NearSt to £5m - following an earlier £2m raise in February 2020 - and brings in finance from the Grosvenor Group, retail specialists True Global, consumer tech specialists YYX Capital and Moscar Capital.

The company will use the cash to accelerate uptake by retailers in the UK with a wave of new hires, and launch the startup’s offering internationally.

The company has already partnered with UK convenience stores including Nisa, Londis and Budgens, as well as luxury boutiques like Creed, Christopher Kane and Hirsh and has reported a tripling in demand during Covid as shoppers go online in unprecedented numbers to find our what is in stock in nearby shops.

Businesses like Google use the technology to show real-time local product availability directly in search results.

NearSt co-founder Nick Brackenbury said: “NearSt’s funding comes at a time of seismic shifts in how we shop and what it means to be a retailer.”

“We all know that the pandemic has driven shopping behaviours online; what’s often overlooked are the millions of people now going online to search for things locally on the High Street.”

He added: “Online shopping is often positioned as the death knell for the High Street - we think it’s far from this, and will rather be the foundation of a vibrant and healthy future for brick-and-mortar shops.”

With almost a third of all Google searches relating to location and over 80 per cent of all retail spending still taking place in physical shops, NearSt said there remains a lot to win in the High Street’s fight against the online giants.

Ian Mair, managing director of digital innovation at the Grosvenor Group, added “Digital technologies and the changing customer expectations will radically change the property industry over the next decade.

“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.”

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