NEAR was founded to help brick and mortar retailers push back against the explosive growth of e-commerce sites. We spent months gathering data about how and why people choose to shop online, then spent even more time building our first set of tools to help retailers put their products in front of potential customers while they shopped on the internet.
Then, the pandemic happened.
I'm sure you don't need me to tell you what happened next. We've all lived through the subsequent lockdowns, social distancing, flattening the curve, etc. Many retailers were forced to pivot heavily towards e-commerce and quickly learned that moving their business online wasn't as simple as throwing together a website and waiting for the orders to roll in.
What many retailers who've taken their products to the internet are discovering is that it's not enough to be able to service your clients from a website. Customer attrition is a natural thing for retail so replacing those losses is critical to sustaining your business, let alone growing it. On the internet, this is a real problem.
As of Q1, 2020 we found that more than 60% of shoppers searching for a product online start their search at Amazon. The reasons for this are a mixture of obvious (Amazon sells just about everything and has good delivery infrastructure) and arcane (Amazon pages have been constructed and refined to continuously feed shoppers positive buying signals). In the end, it doesn't matter why shoppers start their search there - the fact is these shoppers are entirely out of your reach as a retailer. Our research showed that at most 20% of shoppers are "accessible", meaning they might see an advertisement on a search engine or elsewhere.
So as a retailer without the resources of Amazon and a few other e-commerce giants you're left fighting over 20% of shoppers. And by now you've learned just how expensive and challenging it can be to scrap it out in Google's search results to be ranked above your competitors.
The prohibitive costs and unfair playing field are where our tools come in to play. At it's core, NEAR is a search engine like Google or Bing, but with a very different focus. Our database only keeps track of products and their location. When someone searches for a product, we rank results based on distance, not some vague algorithm that's hard to understand and predict.
Obviously NEAR isn't as widely-used as Google. While we hope to change that, we've come up with something that makes us an even more valuable advertising solution. With NEAR, you can advertise your products directly on Amazon's website (and others).
Here's how it works: when a shopper running our software searches Amazon for a product, we search our database in the background using the same parameters. First, we determine the location of the shopper to set the search area. Then we find all the stores within a certain distance - usually about 5km. Finally, we scour the inventories of all those stores and insert matching products into the Amazon search results.
This is a complete departure from how advertising was done in the past. We reward retailers for being close to their shoppers. There is no way to pay for premium placement. The only way to be ranked is to have the product in stock and be close to the searcher.
Of course, advertising to an Amazon shopper is really just the beginning of winning back that business. You need to be price-competitive, convenient and have a compelling overall offer. We're working on that too. In follow-up blog posts you can learn about how our platform can be used to offer real-time price matching. And we're building a network of delivery partners who can help you ship to local customers faster and cheaper than any traditional courier service.
Stay tuned for more updates. And to learn how your business can list on NEAR, contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org