It is received wisdom that the high street is dying. Customers are no longer going to bricks-and-mortar shops, and instead are buying almost everything online. Big chains have been able to move increasing amounts of their products onto their websites, but smaller businesses simply don’t have the resources to do this, and they are losing out. In 2018, almost 2,500 stores disappeared from the UK’s top 500 high streets, resulting in the loss of over 50,000 jobs. Covid-19 restrictions haven’t been helping of course, but even without those shopping online is much more convenient, and can be cheaper, right?
Well, maybe, but what if we told you that last year more than 80% of shoppers said that would prefer to buy from nearby shops rather than online if they know an item is available? There are a few reasons for this; 82% of shoppers say they want to receive the product as soon as they’ve paid for it, and 78% want to be able to see and feel a product in person. 63% of people also agree that supporting local businesses and independent retailers is extremely important , and mourn the loss of high street shops and the decline of town centres.
A solution is just around the corner
Ok, so you are a local business selling something that an online shopper needs, and you’re right around the corner. If they know you’ve got it, they are likely to come and buy it from you, rather than ordering it online, but how do you let them know?
RMS has teamed up with NearSt to get people back into our high streets. NearSt’s award-winning technology offers an invaluable service to retailers by allowing nearby shoppers to see your products when they search in Google and lets them know where you are. When the customer enters their search, they will immediately see your products. They can then click on them to see details on the product and your shop.
Founded in 2015, NearSt believes that shopping in person should be easier and faster than buying online, which is why they are dedicated to connecting the products on the shelves of thousands of shops to the millions of shoppers who are looking for them. NearSt estimates that this could help channel up to £9 billion back into high street shops.
How it works
NearSt is made possible thanks to their bespoke NearLive technology. This powerful platform integrates seamlessly with all kinds of POS systems to automatically extract real-time local inventory data and feed it into Google. This includes the OpSuite EPoS system available from RMS, creating a powerful combination to increase visibility for your business, footfall in your shop and, ultimately, sales.
NearSt automatically connects your products to Google in two places. The first, NearSt BASE’s ‘See What’s In Store’ functionality allows potential customers to explore your product range even when you’re closed. NearSt PLUS runs highly effective ‘Local Inventory Ads’ in Google, displaying your products and showing the distance to your store.
When you sign-up, you’ll get a 4-week free trial of the NearSt PLUS in addition to NearSt BASE, and this is automatically turned off at the end of the trial unless you actively opt to turn it back on. You will also get access to a reporting dashboard. This lets you see what products and services are popular in your area, helping you to make business decisions to best serve local customers. NearSt is fully serviced, with zero onboarding, meaning that you’re ready to go straight away. If you have any questions or need help with any aspect of NearSt, their friendly UK support team are on hand to give you advice.
And the results?
NearSt estimates that on average 1 in 7 online customers who find your products on Google will then visit your shop and make a purchase. This may not sound like a huge number, but it can represent a significant increase in footfall; on average, shops who use NearSt see between 30 and 50 new customers in their first month alone. This comes to a total of 5,000 extra customers visiting high street shops per month who otherwise would have ended up purchasing online. And more and more businesses are recognising the value of NearSt’s services; in some sectors, over 30% of independent retailers are already using NearSt in the fightback against the big online retailers.
In conclusion, bricks-and-mortar retailers are going through a tough time. Although there may indeed be a trend towards buying online rather than in shops, customers still value the experience of purchasing in person. Shoppers also like to support local businesses and would prefer to buy locally if they know a product is available nearby. The trick is to let them know this, and that is where NearSt can help. Your local high street might be dying, but it’s not dead yet, and together RMS and NearSt will help you bring it back to life.