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UK start-up aims mini-revolution in e-commerce
14
Jul '16
British retail tech start-up NearSt has unveiled an ambitious plan that aims to bridge 4 billion pounds in sales for high street retailers in the UK by connecting products, including apparel in local shops to smartphones. The platform allows people to order products for instant collection and 1-hour delivery, beating any existing offer from online platforms such as Amazon, the company said in a press release.

NearSt, which is backed by TrueStart, Europe's leading retail and consumer accelerator and investment fund, launched its website, www.near.st and mobile app on Wednesday through which consumers, initially those in London, will be able to buy books across the city and later this month expanding to thousands of more products including consumer electronics, health & beauty products and sportswear among others.

Brick-and-mortar shops in the UK's high streets have suffered in recent years from the rise of online marketplaces. NearSt aims to change that by bringing business back to their doorstep. With the growth of on-demand shopping, “research online-purchase offline” behaviour, and local 'near me' searches, NearSt believes now is the perfect time for shops to take the fight back to the likes of e-commerce major Amazon.

The NearSt technology, called NearLive, enables any shop to set-up and start selling real-time inventory to shoppers through www.near.st and the app, in less than 10 minutes. Shoppers simply search for something they want, see where it's in stock nearby, and in a few taps order it for 1-hour delivery or instant collection.

Nick Brackenbury, chief executive at NearSt commented: “Why should anyone wait for a package to arrive from across the world, when you can instantly get it from a shop minutes away from you? The only thing missing is a simple connection between products on the shelves of real nearby businesses and shoppers' smartphones.”

This month, Amazon announced they would open more physical stores. NearSt thinks that this can't compete with the millions of local shops already stocking what people are looking for.

“NearSt isn't shying away from going head-to-head with Amazon. While we are currently focussing on growth in London, we are actively working on wider coverage of our offer in cities across the UK and Europe. Our 2020 ambition is to have every product, in every shop, on every high street easily available through NearSt.”

NearSt has successfully piloted the technology with bookshops in London and is already processing over 3-million live inventory updates daily. Founded in 2015, NearSt is backed by Europe's leading retail accelerator, TrueStart – part of retail Private Equity firm True Capital. (SH)

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