New retail innovation for safe and smart shopping arrives in the West End

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A new way to shop safely in the heart of the West End is being funded by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland as part of a pioneering collaboration with British retail tech firm NearSt.

Through the initial two-month scheme, Grosvenor’s retail tenants in destinations including Elizabeth Street in Belgravia and Mount Street in Mayfair can have their inventory promoted to local shoppers, free of charge. This is part of Grosvenor’s programme of support for retailers reopening in Mayfair and Belgravia.

NearSt was founded in 2015 to drive footfall to retailers and high streets by helping brands showcase live in-store inventory to shoppers searching nearby. During the pandemic, the company has seen a six-fold increase in searches for local product availability, highlighting the importance of making in-store inventory easily accessible to customers.

Unlike normal Google Ads, the technology enables retailers to promote all products that are in stock and on shelves to nearby customers who are searching for them.

In addition to a top-ranking Google Search result, retailers are provided with intelligence to help them understand local demand. In week one, products from the first 3 brands on NearSt were seen by almost 15,000 shoppers searching locally.

This is the first time a landlord has partnered with NearSt to bring its technology to market  and drive footfall to specific retail destinations.

Amelia Bright, executive director of the London Estate, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland commented: “Technology is integral to the best shopping experiences and retail destinations. Visitors and workers are coming back to central London but with transactions in mid-July down 60% compared to January for apparel shops we must innovate to help retailers recover.”

“Supporting brands and their connection with new customers is just one of the ways we are seeking to recast landlord-tenant relationships as a partnership, with both sides invested in the others success.”

Brands live on NearSt include jewellery designers VICKISARGE, Elizabeth Gage and Hirsh London, children’s clothing boutique Pepa & Co, design label NRBY, retail movement 50m and fragrance brand Jo Loves.

Jo Hooper, founder, NRBY Clothing added: “NRBY provides contemporary, comfortable clothing for home and nearby. So NearSt’s principle of finding a business close to you, quickly and easily, really resonates with our “local” approach. Along with the desire to find what you want, when you want, comes the desire to shop more sustainably, locally and to support small businesses.

“Although it’s early days, Grosvenor’s partnership with NearSt shows the beginnings of a move in this direction – online shopping is not the only solution for shoppers these days, and there has to be a recognition of the impact of home delivery and how we can combine convenience with sustainable shopping options.  Through its investment, Grosvenor can help us with the priceless experience of face-to-face service in building our business.”

Nick Brackenbury, co-founder & CEO at NearSt, commented: “As socially distanced shopping becomes the norm, helping retailers easily and safely attract local customers will be essential for success.

“Our partnership with Grosvenor shows the incredible impact that’s possible when a world-renowned landlord focusses their resources on technology that can drive more customers to shop locally. We’re excited to be collaborating with Grosvenor on this innovative partnership and helping get more customers back into local shops.”

Almost two thirds of retailers on Grosvenor’s estate are independent or smaller brands, offering specialist products and services. Recently, the business has worked with them to innovate a range of no or low-cost solutions to enable them to operate more smoothly.

This includes a Retail Concierge Service, developed after research highlighted common obstacles in setting up a first physical store. The free service enables retailers to open and trade sooner avoiding costly mistakes or over runs. 

The programme follows the recent announcement of Grosvenor’s funding of an extension of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in Mayfair & Belgravia in September to support food and beverage tenants.