Retail Worlds Q&A: Georgina Nelson, founder, TruRating

Retail Systems chats with Georgina Nelson, the founder of customer ratings provider TruRating, about her career and views on the industry.

How did you get into the sector?
I used to be a lawyer at Which?, the Consumers’ Association, and it was there that I noticed issues in trust around consumer reviews and customer data – just one per cent of customers were providing 99 per cent of opinions and feedback being captured or published, mostly online. There was also an issue with trust – people weren’t sure whether reviews were left by an actual customer, and a significant proportion they weren’t. I thought that if we could make giving feedback easy and quick – and also tie it to a real customer experience, by a validated payment – then we would get mass, representative and, above all, trusted feedback.

How long have you been in your current role and what have been the highlights so far?
I founded the company back in 2013 when I had my daughter (so the first eight months or so I worked around the kitchen table when she slept), and I retain the role of founder and CEO now. Highlights are definitely when you hear from the merchants saying our data is ‘gold’ and that we’ve helped increase their average spend. When you get that kind of affirmation it makes your heart sing.

In terms of technology developments, what have you got planned for the next 12 months?
This year is all about getting out there and live with the big retailers and High Street brands we’ve confirmed pilots with across the UK, America, Canada and Australia. In addition, we’re going to be enhancing our e-commerce offering, where consumers can feedback on a merchant’s e-commerce website. This means our multi-channel customers can compare key metrics across online and their bricks and mortar stores. We’re also going to be launching a free version of TruRating for smaller merchants who just want a quick and simple snapshot of how they’re performing. Oh, and a few more version releases of our core TruRating product.

Would you say that the future of retail is mobile, online, physical stores or a mixture of all three?
Definitely a mix of all three. It has to be, because each of those channels brings a different element to the overall experience that consumers increasingly expect from their brands. “Death of bricks and mortar” is a catchy headline, but actually we know that increasingly, shoppers are looking for the personalised, immersive experience that stores provide. Millennials especially!

What has impressed you about one of your recent online or High Street shopping experiences?
Following on from the focus on experience, it has to be my visits to stores when I can get stuck in and explore their products. I’m spending a lot of time at our Atlanta office in the US at the moment and William Sonoma (a kitchen shop) is just a few minutes’ walk from our office. Wandering in there, tasting the different sauces, drinking the smoothies they’ve made in their for-sale- blenders, munching on their bread made from the packet mixes they sell, just generally makes me happy. It makes it into a memory – I spend far longer in there and always buy things I never had any intention of getting when walking in.

Is there anything that you dislike or that frustrates you about the sector?
Pace. We have some amazing partners in the payments space, and we’re lucky enough (with a lot of sweat) to now be working with around 80-90 per cent of the payment platforms in our markets. But this sector doesn’t always innovate quickly, and embedding new technology and new ideas has sometimes been frustratingly slow. Times are changing though, there are clear leaders of the pack and I’ve been to so many great events and get-togethers recently where the great and good of this sector are really building an exciting future. One that we’re very much a part of.

Who in the industry inspires you and why?
I admire a huge number of people, but especially anyone who takes on a risk and pours their heart and energy into trying to make their dream a reality. However, I’ve never been one of those people who can list their role models and influencers, and haven’t had the time to get to know any role models in the detail I’d need for them to impact my decisions. Maybe after my TruRating chapter I’ll get on to reading those biographies, etc.

What technology can’t you live without?
Think it would have to be my Bose noise cancelling headphones. Blocking out the world as I look at a complicated contract, sit on a noisy plane or just generally need some time out looking at the sky. I have been listening to Ludovicio Einaudi since I was at law school and now think I couldn’t do anything complicated without being soothed by his tunes, and my headphones make it seem as though he’s sitting at his piano next door to me.

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