Tech start-up NearSt gets £2m funding to help boost physical retail

Feb 19, 2020
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A technology start-up that aims to boost footfall to physical retailers has announced that it has raised £2 million in seed funding from several investors.

NearSt allows consumers to see products they want that are available in stores nearby

NearSt, which has been backed by Google since late 2018, said that the new investors include YYX Capital and the new money means that the total invested in the company so far is £3.2 million. Its investors also include Will Hobhouse, Ben Laurie and artificial intelligence specialist DeepMind.

The company will use the new cash to expand into the US and to take on new staff to boost its position in the UK.

The almost-five-year-old business uses data from retailer point-of-sale systems to offer real-time information to consumers on products they might want to buy that are available in stores that are physically close to them as an alternative to buying the product via a webstore.

Given that the majority of products (around 80% to 90% depending on the time of year) are still bought in physical stores and that customers usually express a preference for doing so as they can touch, feel and try on what they're about to buy, it's a potentially huge market that can be exploited.

The company said it already boosts footfall to UK physical shops by 5,000 customers a month and its aim is to grow this to more than 100,000 a month by year end.

YYX Capital founding partner James Cox said that there’s an assumption today that e-tail means the end of the high street, but physical retail remains “a multi-trillion dollar market that technology has barely touched and NearSt has the potential to truly transform how we all interact with physical retail”.

NearSt co-founder Nick Brackenbury added: “Most of the products we buy online are stocked in a store nearby. Until today though, they were invisible to your smartphone, so online was the only easy option. We’re solving that problem for retailers by making it effortless to get their products seen by the millions of local searches happening every day near their stores. The magic of NearSt is how simple it is for a retailer to take advantage of this cutting-edge technology. A few minutes and a few clicks is all it takes to get their inventory management system hooked up.”

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