Retail tech start-up NearSt, which makes a retail shop’s inventory visible in online searches, has raised a further £2m in funding.
The funding from Grosvenor Group, retail specialists True Global, consumer tech specialists YYX Capital and Moscar Capital, brings the firm’s total funding to £5m in 2020.
The firm reports that use of its app has tripled during lockdown as shoppers begin their high-street shop by first searching for products online. Shoppers can see what local stores have to offer before venturing out.
The funding will will be used to accelerate the uptake of the tech by retailers, which is installed in-store, as well as funding more hires and an international launch.
Founded in 2017, the firm has also started working with Facebook in order to help drive the social network’s local shopping capabilities.
It first struck a partnership with Google in 2018, with a solution enabling local shops to automatically list live inventory in Google ‘See What’s In Store’ and ‘Local Inventory’ ads.
NearSt’s co-founder Nick Brackenbury said: “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.”
“We’ve witnessed extraordinary growth in ‘local-availability’ searches throughout 2020. In the first lockdown customers searching for products nearby surged 620% compared to February levels, before levelling off at a 270% increase between July and September.
“While this most recent lockdown has driven another 500 per cent surge, what’s clear is that shoppers are getting used to going online to find things in the local businesses they prefer to buy from.”