StreetHub app brings online shopping to indie boutiques

Enjoy online shopping, but not the guilt of contributing to the death of independent shops? Never fear, StreetHub's here

Feature by Márcio Florindo | 11 Jul 2014
  • StreetHub screenshot

StreetHub, a digital shopping network of local, independent boutiques in London, recently launched its new iOS app, giving customers online access to browse more than 10,000 products at more than 300 indie retailers.

Maxim Berglund, Alex Loizou and Mandeep Singh, co-founders of StreetHub, came up with the idea after noticing a growing trend of “click and collect” in the UK’s shopping habits. “E-commerce now accounts for just over 10% of UK retail spend, but 50% is actually researched online and then bought in store,” explains Emma Smith from the marketing team at StreetHub. “Independent retailers lack the scale and the resources to take advantage of that trend, so we decided to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping, and came up with the idea to support and help smaller, independent retailers.”

Buying in StreetHub is a process as simple as with any other online shopping platform. After determining the user’s location – by GPS or postcode – the app shows products available from boutiques that are nearby. Stock includes a selection of handmade jewellery, homewares, high-end fashion, and lifestyle products. All the listed products are available to be picked up directly at the store.

Customers can also choose to have their purchases delivered in as little as 90 minutes with the help of Shutl, another London-based start-up. The same day delivery is, however, limited to a three-mile radius, and the focus of the app is primarily on increasing traffic to small boutiques, encouraging people to discover and then browse: “It’s very much about customers discovering these small shops, and then going in and purchasing. We’re very focused on increasing footfall into these independent shops -- the whole idea is around click and collect.”

The company believes that, despite the ubiquitous appearance of big chain stores, the digital age isn’t necessarily the beginning of the end for small independent retailers, contrary to popular belief. One of the advantages of Street Hub is knowing that the products seen by customers are all in stock in boutiques nearby: “All of the products that are on the website are available in real-time,” says Smith. “We are very different from any of those other big marketplaces. We aggregate and bring together communities of independent retailers online.”

So far, the feedback from clients and stores has been very positive. “We have a great community with about 300 independent shops all across London,” Smith adds. “They are very engaged with what we’re doing and they help us promote StreetHub as well, so they all have stickers in the windows.” Of course, boutiques also benefit from this exposure on the website: “They get new customers and increase their footfall in their shops. So, it’s very positive.”

While many independent shops might be raring to sign up, joining StreetHub is not a matter of filling in an application or registering a form. This is a select group, and only a few boutiques are chosen. “We want to work with only the best of the independent shops. So we hand pick and visit every single shop that comes on to the site. We are very proactive in choosing which ones to join and they don’t pay to be with us. It’s a commission-based model, basically.”

For now, StreetHub is available only in London. The company plans on expanding to other parts of the country, but is still working on an expansion strategy. Judging by the interest in the idea, it probably won’t be long until customers across the UK can start buying from the comfort of their sofas and having their purchases delivered to them almost instantly. StreetHub received about £700 thousand in seed investment last year from Index Ventures, Octopus Investments, and several angel investors and advisors. Hopefully shoppers nationwide will be able to start supporting independent boutiques by “clicking and collecting” sooner rather than later.