Tl;dr — As NearSt has grown we’ve shut down some old features in order to double down on a whole host of new ones that are getting many more people back into high street shops.
In 2015 we started NearSt with a very simple mission — to get people back into high street shops.
Over the past few months you may have noticed many of NearSt’s features that contribute to this mission slowly disappearing. I wanted to share some of the major changes we’re currently making at NearSt, and provide a glimpse at some of the exciting updates still to come.
There’s an app for that
When we launched in 2015 we thought that the best way to get people back into local shops was by building an incredible app and website to search for anything nearby.
We learnt that shoppers loved this, but realised we could make a much bigger impact if they could search in the sites, apps and services they were already using.
Offering this though would mean giving away our most valuable feature as the only destination to find and buy products from hundreds of local shops…
From a shopping app to partnering with Google
In 2018 we took a deep breath and decided to open up our technology and data as a platform. This led to a partnership with Google, who would use our real-time local inventory data to show shoppers exactly what’s in stock in local stores, directly in search.
These shoppers don’t need to know NearSt exists. But our technology will enable millions more people to see that the products they want are available nearby, and ultimately achieve our mission with far greater impact and scale.
Leaving the old to focus on the new
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
Alexander Graham Bell
When we announced our new product offering and partnership with Google in November, we were overwhelmed by the demand. This is an incredible moment as a business, but also forces tough decisions.
To deliver on the potential of NearSt asthe technology that will power other websites to get people into shops , we must focus all our energy on it. This means no longer supporting many of our original features which we are both proud and fond of, but which fall outside the focus for our future.
Waving goodbye to our apps and online ordering
As of December 2018, we’ve removed our iOS and Android shopping apps from the App Store and Google Play Store. They’re products we’re incredibly proud of, but which took a superhuman effort to maintain as quality experiences. Continuing to offer a great user experience while adding tens of thousands of products in shops all over the UK each week wasn’t possible. So in service of getting more people into local shops as a platform, we took the decision to retire both of the apps.
In July we took our last 1-hour delivery order, as we closed down the ability to order and pay for products through NearSt directly. While the service was very popular in London, it required a significant support overhead and was only viable in the capital. All our shops are still showing live inventory, and today we’re focussed on leveraging our data to help customers find what they’re looking for nearby in the easiest possible way.
What the future holds
The last nine months are only the first step in our new direction as a data platform. We’re excited that the world’s biggest search engine — Google — is already using our technology to get more customers into local stores, but this is just a first step.
We’re building for a future where our real-time local inventory data is used to power not just local product search in Google, but in all of the apps, sites, and services you already use.
What would your favourite ride-hailing and food delivery app do if it had a live feed of every product in every shop near you?
What might your favourite photo sharing app do if sponsored posts could tell you where the product in the image was stocked nearby?
What might the young innovators of today build tomorrow, if they could access a live view of products in local shops?
It’s imagining how the high street of tomorrow will look when we answer these questions that gets us most excited, and pushes us further on our mission to get people everywhere back into high street shops.
Originally published at https://near.st on August 15, 2019.