Our Data Ethics

We started NearSt with one simple mission - to get people back into high street shops. To achieve this we need to handle large volumes of data about the inventory stocked in the shops we work with. This data has real value and ultimately belongs to the shops themselves. Therefore we don’t take our role in handling it lightly.

Our responsibility

We believe it is our responsibility to be open and transparent with how we think about using this data, keeping the shops who are sharing it with us fully informed and in control of something that is ultimately theirs.

So we have committed to maintaining an open set of principles that govern how we use and protect this data:

1. We must always get people back into shops

A shop’s data should only ever be used to drive more people into their shop.

NearSt exists for one reason alone; to get people all around the world back into local shops. We found that access to what we call "Real-Time Local Inventory" data (an accurate view of which shops having which products in stock, in real-time) is the key to unlocking a bright future for the high street. Anything we do with this data must always lead to achieving this goal.

2. Less is more

We should only capture what we need.

To run our technology we only need a limited amount of information. Today this is just three types of data: barcodes, stock levels, and prices. We supplement this with publicly available information about a store (such as the address and telephone number). We will not source or hold any additional information from shops that isn’t needed to get more people back into their store.

3. A shop’s data belongs to them

Inventory data belongs to shops and can be controlled by them accordingly.

Shops are the gatekeepers of their own inventory data, and should have full visibility and control over where it can be shown. Whether this is on their NearSt Shop Page or in Google 'See what's in Store', they have the right to see where their products are being shown and be given full control to disable any platforms where they don’t want them to appear.

4. Be safe, not sorry

Our principles hold value only when the data they govern is secure.

Inventory data is precious to a shop, and we treat it as such. We will always ensure that the data we store is held securely and protected from unauthorised access.

5. We mustn't be naive

Real-Time Local Inventory data can be a powerful tool; for good and for bad.

There are people and companies who would like to use Real-Time Local Inventory data in ways could be harmful to local shops. For example, an online comparison site that aims to undercut high street shop prices. We will take robust steps when on-boarding new partners to protect against this, and monitor them closely thereafter for compliance.

6. We are only as good as our shops

We will only succeed if our shops succeed.

We’re proud to be building NearSt together with our shops, and couldn’t exist without them. We understand that this means we will need to constantly seek feedback and revisit questions around how we use their data, to further our ultimate goal of getting people back into high street shops. We will keep this page updated as we continue to learn and evolve on that journey to build healthy, thriving high streets together.

Change History

24th May 2019 - Document published