Posted: 05/08/2016

NearSt looks to take local food online

NearSt on iPhone
The NearSt app offers consumers products from local retailers’ shelves

NearSt is the latest online shopping platform to move into sourcing goods from farm shops, delicatessens and other speciality food shops.

The site and app, which has been on test in London with book stores, connects products in local shops with smartphones.

Its NearLive technology enables any shop to set up and start selling online to shoppers who, when searching for products they want, are shown where they are in stock near their location.

The items can be collected immediately or delivered within an hour by what is currently a network of four local third-party courier companies.

Nick Brackenbury, chief executive, of NearSt, which has taken on £100,000 of investment and plans to raise a further £500,000 at the end of this year, said the service would be rolled out to food stores at the end of 2016 or early 2017 in the capital.

It will expand into further product categories – including electronics, beauty products and sportswear – during August and aims to be national, including in remote villages, by 2020.

“From a technology point of view we don’t see rural areas as a problem,” said Brackenbury. “We’ve built it so retailers don’t have to be dependent on high-tech solutions.”

Shoppers initially pay £5 per order. It is free for retailers to set up and there is no monthly charge. A “5-20% commission” on the value of the order is charged.

Brackenbury, a former Ogilvy advertising agency account director, said charges and pricing could change as NearSt expanded into food and drink.

David Greenman, co-owner of Arch House Delicatessen in Clifton, Bristol, said: “2020 seems a long time away for a technology company because everything could change by then. I would have thought they would be looking at shorter timescales.”

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