From today over 1,400 high street convenience stores will be better equipped to drive online shoppers in-store, by making their inventory visible on Google in real-time.
In a bid to maintain increased footfall witnessed by convenience stores during the pandemic, Google-backed retail technology firm NearSt has partnered with the leading EPoS provider ITS Retail – ITS.
Founded in 2015 by Max Kreijn and Nick Brackenbury, NearSt’s software brings customers into bricks and mortar stores by showing the products stocked in local shops to people searching online nearby – making it more convenient to buy items locally than online.
Now integrated into ITS’s EPoS platform, this means that convenience stores can effortlessly connect their entire inventory to Google search in real time – showing local shoppers what they stock in just the touch of a button.
With usage of NearSt’s tech quadrupling in 2020, the software has proven to be a life-line for bricks and mortar retail during Covid as shoppers went online in unprecedented numbers to find out “what’s in stock nearby”.
The integration with ITS will automatically show in-store products in places like Google’s My Business Page, Google Shopping and Google Maps.
Because of this partnership, shoppers will be able to see if a product they are searching for online is close by and will direct them back to their local high street.
“Many of us rediscovered our local convenience stores in 2020 and it proved to be a bumper year for those outside city centres.” said Nick Brackenbury, CEO and co-founder of NearSt
“This partnership will enable retailers to continue to ride that wave and create incremental growth through new customers.
“Moreover, I think while there is a buoyancy about the sector right now, it’s hard to ignore the multi-billion investment into dark store delivery services that are popping up everywhere.
“People are increasingly getting used to going online even to do the simplest of grocery shops, so this is also the perfect post pandemic solution for those on the high street wanting to help mitigate this.”
“We’ve definitely noticed a real uptick in Convenience stores embracing new technology to continue the momentum of the demand and behaviour ignited by the pandemic.
NearSt believes that while the surge in e-commerce sales has been widely acknowledged, what’s largely been overlooked is the even bigger surge in shoppers going online to hunt out products on nearby high streets.
The retail technology start-up saw a seven-fold jump in local product searches in places like Google last year, with 2021 settling on four times the volume of pre-pandemic levels.
Google also reported an 8,000% increase in searches for “who has ___ in stock” last year.
“Thanks to ITS, this makes it even simpler now for convenience stores to compete with online.” continued Mr Brackenbury.
“Everything works using the barcodes, stock levels, and pricing already stored in shops’ existing EPoS systems – so you literally set it and forget it.
“Pulling data automatically every few minutes NearSt creates high quality product listings, so you don’t need to spend dozens of hours manually entering product details.”
In January and February the Southampton-based Co-op Welcome convenience store began running NearSt’s technology.
Products were seen in local search results 380,000 times, and over 4,000 shoppers went on to seek out further information by clicking on the product, calling the shop, or getting directions to the store.
“This has driven over 550 customers in-store during January, February and March alone.” according to Mr Brackenbury.
NearSt acts as a guardian of the inventory, and operates a public data ethics policy that ensures shops always remain in control of their data.
Rather than giving platforms direct access to stores´stock data, NearSt acts as a buffer and only sends essential information to keep data secure.
John Haslam, Business Development Manager at ITS: “For almost 30 years we have worked to supply powerful and innovative one-stop EPoS solutions customised for the demanding convenience store environment. We believe that offering NearSt to the ITS network is the perfect way to tap into the rapidly growing trend among shoppers of using Google to look for products in nearby stores – thus levelling up the playing field between online and physical retail.”