An internet startup has helped independent retailers increase sales through a service that provides live product availability information on Google. 

NearSt works with the search engine to provide potential customers online updates about availability and pricing in a partnered convenience store. The information is gathered through a device that plugs into an EPoS. 

The service costs a one-off £299 fee and also provides retailers with their own online page, which displays background information, opening hours and contact details. 

Speaking to RN at the RetailExpo conference in London last week, NearSt founder Nick Brackenbury said search engines are vital for attracting footfall in convenience stores. “We were only available to businesses in London when we partnered with Google in October, but independent retailers across the UK can use our services now,” he said.

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“People often use Google to search for products now because it’s the most convenient method. For example, someone might be after a box of teabags, and a store using our service will be one of the first to come up.”

According to Brackenbury, a food shop in Edinburgh had 100 additional customers after using the service. “Overall, businesses partnered with NearSt have come up in 11,000 searches so far,”
he added. 

Jonathan Morley, chief executive of digital screen manufacturer Trueform, stressed the importance of adding business information to search engines such as Google Maps to attract customers. 

Trueform manufactures digital screens used in major cities that include features such as interactive maps of the surrounding area. 

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Morley added: “We are finding that people are using our screens constantly, and maps are one of the most commonly used features. 

“Tourists might use them to find nearby businesses, or people who use them to find the quickest way home might also find a nearby business listed on the route.”