Posted: 24/07/2019

How “real-time local inventory” data could drive shoppers back to the High Street

FOOTFALL could be driven back into the High Street by new technology that shows consumers where branded products they want are available there and then from local shops

A report by tech start-up NearSt and trends forecaster The Future Laboratory, High Street Futures, predicts a £9 billion boost to the UK’s 200,000 high street stores by Real-Time Local Inventory (RTLI), an emerging technology that can tell shoppers where products are available in real time. 

London-based NearSt is currently working with Google on a system using RTLI to point shoppers towards local stockists first when they search online for specific products.

High Streets

The Guild was one of several trade associations given a presentation on NearSt and RTLI at a meeting of the Independent Retail Confederation, whose members range from the Booksellers Association to the Craft Bakers Association and National Federation of Retail Newsagents.

According to High Street Futures, RTLI data could deliver a “better experience for both shoppers and shops” by giving direct feedback to stores on which products are being sought by customers in their locality at any time.

RTLI currently relies on barcoded products with an industry-standard code, and it is not clear how or whether it could be applied to fresh deli foods. But if only a small proportion of a shop’s bigger selling brands are within the system, it could help drive footfall and encourage impulse purchases in-store.

The High Street Futures authors also point to research by web developer Marketing Signals suggesting “85% of UK consumers still prefer to physically purchase products in-store, and 78% like to see and feel products in person before buying online”.

This story appeared in the July issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.

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