Charity Spotlight: Learning Links

Next up in our spotlight series we take a trip down under to Australia to hear from one of our charity partners, Learning Links and the incredible work they do for kids with learning difficulties. We will also hear from one of our very own members of TeamTru who just recently completed a volunteer programme with the charity.

Who are Learning Links?

Learning Links is a not for profit organisation which was established in 1972 by parents concerned about the lack of appropriate education and support services to meet their children’s needs.  Today the charity’s mission is to provide children and young people who have difficulties learning with the skills, services and family support that will enable them to realize their potential.

Learning Links

What do they do?

Learning Links works in collaboration with schools, early childhood settings and parents to help children with learning disabilities and difficulties. These include conditions such as ADHD and high functioning Autism to speech and language delays. Around 5 – 15% of children in Australia have learning difficulties but, a diagnosis of a learning disability and difficulty does not entitle a child or family to financial assistance. When we consider 17.7% of children in Australia or 603,000 live in households in poverty it makes the work Learning Links does even more critically important as there is a strong correlation between learning disabilities and financial disadvantage.

The children are often anxious, have trouble communicating and interacting with others, and many have behavioural issues. In the later years they are often challenged in literacy, numeracy and impacting on their ability to complete education and participate in the community.

Early intervention for young children who experience developmental delays is critical to mitigate the risk of poor educational outcomes later in life. Learning Links is recognized as a pioneer in the area of inclusive early childhood education.

How are the Learning Links programs delivered?

Learning Links 2

Learning Links has 6 programs altogether, 4 of which are delivered by qualified educational professionals and two which are volunteer programs ‘Reading for Life’ and ‘Counting for Life.’ We’re very proud to announce one of our TeamTru members just completed the ‘Counting for Life’ volunteer program and wanted to tell us a bit about her experience but first…

What is ‘Counting for Life?’ 

The is a numeracy program for children who are 8 – 10 years old who are falling behind in maths.  This volunteer run program provides one-on-one weekly support for 10 weeks to children and is proven to increase children’s numeracy skills.

Cara from our Marketing department in our Sydney office completed the program and had this to say about her experience.

“Volunteering with Learning Links was a really enjoyable experience from start to finish.  Every Wednesday I would go to the school for 45 minutes and work with Sarah* who was my designated ‘Buddy’ and deliver the program. The program is delivered in a semi-structured way with lots of games, so it didn’t really feel like we were learning maths skills since we were often laughing and having so much fun! However, across the 10 weeks I was so pleased to see the huge improvements in Sarah’s math skills and how her confidence grew week by week.”

“I recently just met with Kate from Learning Links who delivered the results on the group in the school who went through the program and I was truly humbled by the impact myself and other volunteers had made. Some kids progressed by 2 – 4 years in skills such as addition and subtraction. I would highly recommend any take part in this programme and I hope to volunteer again next year!’

We heard from a volunteer but what did the children say after the program!

“Maths is much easier, it has made me more confident.”

“It has helped me because I used to get worried and now, I feel fine.”

“It makes me feel a little bit smart.”

Learning Links_TruRating2

We are so proud to sponsor a charity like Learning Links who are making huge changes for the better in children’s lives.

If you would like to donate to Learning Links and support them and the wonderful work they do please visit:

*Child’s name was changed for anonymity.

The 3 types of customers who will shop with you this Christmas

It’s the time of year retailers spend many months preparing for the Christmas shopping frenzy! The National Retail Federation recently reported that retailers will make as much as 30% of their annual sales over this period, so it’s an absolute must to be prepared.

Whether it be customer service, experience, marketing, new product ranges, staff rostering or your store format – a huge number of variables go into the shaping of the perception of your customer experience.  To make things even more fun, different customers, will have different concerns at any given time.

While this can seem a little daunting, fear not, TruRating is here to help.  We analyzed thousands of ratings (collected across four continents no less) to help identify the three distinct types of customer, who will walk through your doors this holiday season.

We’ve also provided some tips on how to help meet each of these shoppers’ unique expectations.  Who says Christmas doesn’t come early once in a while?

Enjoy and have a fantastic holiday season!

1. The ‘Loyal’ Customer

“The most effective way to increase brand loyalty is to increase customer service.” (Forbes Agency Council)

Our holiday retail data uncovered that customers who are ‘fans’ of your store spend more per average transaction when they reported having an ‘excellent customer experience’ or received great service.

We found that having a good mix of temporary and experienced staff on shift, helped retailers maintain and improve service levels during busy periods.  Implementing technology that allows you to monitor service patterns by time of day, can be hugely beneficial in terms of reacting to staffing blind spots in a timely fashion, before your revenues take a hit.

Tip: Monitor shift patterns closely to ensure that you have the right mixture of long-term and temporary staff employed evenly during the busy holiday periods.

2. The ‘Indifferent’ Customer

When it comes to customers who are ‘fence-sitters’ rather than brand loyalists, we found that Product is the key driver behind ATV, closely followed by the perception of value for money.  What does this tell us?

This type of customer is in-store for purely transactional reasons: if your store stocks the product they need at a good price, they purchase – simple as that. If, however, they can find the same product at a better price somewhere else, they’ll likely follow the deal over the brand.

Ensuring stock levels are well maintained throughout busy times is an obvious must for this group, but our data revealed that benefit-led selling is another key for winning over this typically neutral group of customers.

We worked with one retailer to help retrain their staff to sell by emphasizing the benefits of their products, versus just the product features, and the result was a huge 11% increase in ATV. The same retailer discovered that when staff had explained more than two options to customers, ATV went up by an even larger 30%.

Tip: Ensure your seasonal and full-time staff are well trained on your products to optimize the ATV of every customer visit and encourage them to spend the time to educate customers on why products will benefit them vs. pure feature led-selling.

People browsing Christmas markets in Manchester at night


3. The ‘Cash-Conscious’ Customer

The holiday season is a unique retail period; we found that even customers who were disappointed by an in store experience, still had ATV’s comparable to the most satisfied customers.  While providing a high quality of experience remains necessary to drive long term customer loyalty and advocacy, for a select group of shoppers, finding a bargain is the most important driver during the holiday season.

The key driver for this group was value for money. They are price driven and focused on hunting down the best deal in town. When this group were impressed with the value of their shopping in December, their ATV spiked in comparison with other times of the year – unsurprisingly in line with when most retailers launch their holiday sales.

To appeal to the ‘smash and grab’ holiday bargain hunter, your best bet is to make sure you’re clearly promoting your sales, whether through local advertising, social media or even handing out flyers. Remember that as many as 75% of holiday shoppers are willing to try a new retailer given the right incentives – a well-timed flyer might just be the thing to clinch this fleeting group!

Tip: To appeal to bargain hunters, make sure you are publicizing your latest offers through a variety of channels – particularly to local audiences – during the busy holiday period.

To learn more about how you can optimize your customer experience over the Christmas period, leave us your details via the TruRating website and one of our busy elves will be in contact as soon as possible.


City Beach: a TruRating Story

The TruRating crew were recently lucky enough to spend a little time with the team behind one of our fantastic retailers, City Beach.

HQ’d in bustling Brisbane, City Beach has been trading for over 30 years, building up a reputation as a go-to vendor for youth fashion across Australia.  With over 65 stores open across the country, they’re certainly a busy bunch.

It was amazing to see how the City Beach team have embraced TruRating across the breadth of their organization and we left Brisbane with a skip in our step.  One particular quote from COO, Anita Dorwald, had us blushing,

“For us, it is no longer a nice to have, it’s an essential to have… to help us navigate the brave new world of omnichannel retail.”

To get the whole scoop, watch the video below, and thanks Anita, we love you too!

To find out more about how TruRating can help your business, just leave us your details here.

Cara McCullogh


Blending Retail and Entertainment for a Better Shopping Experience

Flagship stores are responsible for showcasing a brand by creating an unforgettable experience for customers. In some cases, they’re even recognized as tourist destinations. 5th Avenue in New York is a prime example of this—it has become a must-visit for millions of tourists each year so they can experience what the world’s top brands, including Gucci, Hugo Boss and Apple, have to offer at their flagship stores.

In 2018, flagships are more engaging, interactive and innovative than ever before. This phenomenon has been dubbed retailtainment. Think of Singapore’s Louis Vuitton flagship store, complete with underwater tunnels and art exhibitions.

Dita Flagship
The Dita flagship store in Soho, NY.

Lush is another company that has created an unforgettable experience at its 9,500 square-foot, 3-story Oxford Street flagship store in London. It allows customers to experience the products through massage areas and an in-house luxury spa. On site, the brand also boasts The Gorilla Gallery, a contemporary art installation for customers to enjoy.

With a staggering 81% of customers choosing experience as the key reason why they shop in-store versus online, brands with revolutionary flagship stores are listening to customer needs and delivering on changing the face of retail forever.

What sets flagship stores apart from regular outlets?

There are two things which brands achieve by taking the extra time—sometimes years—in planning, effort, construction costs and monthly rents that is required in having a flagship store:

Increased perception of value for money

Typically, product is one of the lowest rated areas for fashion retailers. The exception to this is in fashion retailers’ flagship stores. The way flagship stores position products in these engaging interactive environments translates to customers viewing products more positively and perceiving them as a better deal.

Nike’s 5-story flagship store in New York is the ultimate interactive customer experience, where customers are invited to use the in-store treadmills or play football and basketball in designated areas—all while trying out the Nike products. Customers can also monitor their progress on the Nike+ app to see how they are performing, and staff can refer to the app to see what customers have used in the past to suggest products.

Knowledge that it’s not all about price

According to TruRating findings across multiple retail merchants, of the core metrics we measure, product is the key driver of average transaction value (ATV) in flagships (28.4% vs 13.1% in regular stores.) In contrast to this, service is the main driver of ATV in regular retail stores (15.7% vs. 22.7% in flagship stores). While regular retail stores are more susceptible to drops in service when transaction quantities increase, customers in flagship stores react surprisingly different—they are happy to wait, browse and even self-serve.

ATV Key Drivers
Source: TruRating Data, March 2017 – April 2018

How can regular stores close the gap with flagships?

Regular retail stores can’t emulate the uniqueness of a brand’s flagship, but below are a couple of tips about what you can do today to close the gap and boost sales in the process:

Base staff training on benefit led selling

Americans are willing to spend 18% more to receive top-class service from a brand, with 12 other countries not far behind at 16%. This is gold for retail stores, because service is the key motivator for ATV and consumers are willing to pay more for it.

Through TruRating data, a national fashion retailer discovered a common problem amongst their stores—there was a low perception of product quality and value for money. In order to change attitudes within their customers, a benefit-led staff training program was implemented. The immediate results of the training program were incredible—the retailer vastly improved customer perception of value for money and product by 11%, which in turn led to a 5% uplift in overall revenue.


Understand that retail is a people business

32% of customers polled over 12 countries will stop doing business with a brand they love after just one bad experience and being that service is a key driver of ATV for regular stores, every customer interaction is important. As already mentioned, regular retail stores experience a drop-in service during busy periods, which impacts ATV.

Do you know how you perform during peak periods from a customer’s perspective (every store, every day, every hour)? Do you know how much this is costing each store in terms of lost revenue? If you can’t answer this question, you’re probably leaving significant revenue on the table for a competitor to pick up.

To see how your stores are performing at different times of day, visit the TruRating Dashboard, and under Overview, go to the Day and Time Heatmap.


If you’re not currently our customer and are interested in learning more, please drop us a line at or find out more on our website.

Cara McCullough

Main image: Nike’s 5-story flagship store in New York City