Imagine the scene: T’was the night before Christmas and all through the UK shoppers were frantically trying to finish their Christmas shopping. With no time left to place an online order, the pressure was on to make sure all of the family had the latest must-have items amongst their presents. Unsure sure of what to do and where to go, the shoppers leave no stone unturned in their quest, desperately mapping routes around the high street via their phones in a bid to put some semblance of logic to the Christmas chaos, hoping that this year’s hottest gifts haven’t already sold out. And Lo! That’s when Google notifies them that the stores on their local high street have all of the items they are looking for in stock. Christmas shopping can be completed in a relatively stress-free 30 minutes and a trip to three high street retailers.
This story is now a reality following news that Google has partnered with start-up NearSt to provide consumers with real-time inventory in their local shops, and is good news for retailers and consumers alike.
It is likely that the smaller retailers, with smaller inventories and fewer stores, will be agile enough to become early adopters of this technology. For them, it will be another step in levelling the playing field between themselves and the big retail brands. For the larger retailers, the size and complexity of their inventories, coupled with the fact they are most likely already offering an omni-channel strategy things may be more complicated, though not impossible.
As consumers have become ever more demanding a 24 hour wait for fulfilment of an order can, unbelievably, often seem too long, especially when you are already in the middle of shopping or are planning expenditure around an event like a birthday or Christmas. Crucially, this technology gives consumers the power of choice and, in an age when convenience is prioritised above all else, allows them to make the best decisions for their lifestyle on any given day at the touch of a button. The technology also has the power to encourage greater spend on UK high streets and given that there is concern as to what the future of these may be, anything that encourages consumers to spend in their local high street must surely be regarded as a good thing?
The live inventory system should help make it "as easy to shop locally as it is online"