Retail high street RTLI

5 ways live shelf data could change high street

The adoption of technology for displaying inventories could result in a £9bn boost to the declining high street, according to research carried out by NearSt and the Future Laboratory.

The pair explored the benefits of Real-Time Local Inventory, which NearSt uses, providing a live view of where products are stocked in shops. The firms explain that RTLI is “set to make it more convenient to shop nearby than order a product online” and will enable stores to “offer greater flexibility, personalisation and connection with their community”.

The report uses RTLI data from London-based retail technology company NearSt, which recently partnered with search giant Google to help shoppers find products in their local stores easily. Here are five ways NearSt and Future Lab say live data about available stock could change retail:

Community curation

Retailers will better understand their customers through a combination of local understanding, overlain with hyper-local demand data. RTLI technology will be central to this future vision, enabling a feedback loop delivering better experiences for both shoppers and shops.


Retail space will be rethought in more dynamic ways as there becomes a reduced need to carry stock that isn’t in demand. RTLI data will show retailers local shopper preferences, enabling them to always stock the right product, at the right time, for the right customer.

Personalised pathways

Paths to purchase will be personalised to individuals based on location and their likely intentions. RTLI data will alert retailers to shoppers heading to the store and enable them to customise suggestions.

Dynamic discounting

Discounts will happen in real-time as retailers are able to assess fluctuating demand through on-hand data. RTLI will alert retailers to what is and isn’t in demand, enabling them to change their prices quickly in response.

Connected locales

By 2025, ecosystems of community retail and businesses will develop as everyone works together to support their locale. RTLI will play a major role in connecting the dots for local retailers and this could result in scenarios where businesses recommend each other based on purchase e.g. by saying ‘you’ve just bought a dress, the hairdresser opposite has an appointment in 15 minutes’.

Nick Brackenbury, co-founder of NearSt, said: “Today it’s very much a case of going back to the future for retail. Our parents would shop locally for a lack of other options, but benefited from the convenience, service, and community of buying nearby.

“We’re close to a future where the best elements from that past will be unlocked once again, where your phone will know that the shop down the road has what you want, rather than an online shop shipping products from hundreds of miles away.”

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