7 inspirational female leaders in the UK’s retail tech sector

The UK tech sector is dominated by men, with only 16.8% of tech professionals being female, according to a report from the Inclusive Tech Alliance (ITA). The report claims it is harder for women to gain career advancement or development opportunities, have their ideas listened to and receive recognition for their work.

ITA adds it doesn't stop at the top – research has shown that female founders in the tech sector struggle to gain investment opportunities due to unconscious bias. 

In celebration of this year's International Women’s Day theme, I am Generation Equality: Realising Women's Rights, here are some of the many female leaders pathing the way in the retail tech market. 

Imogen Wethered – Qudini – CEO & Co-founder

Soon after graduating from university, Imogen Wethered attended a corporate-sponsored hackathon where she and Qudini co-founder, Fraser Hardy, developed an innovative business model that enables retailers to improve their in-store experiences through ground-breaking SaaS technology.

In 2012, Wethered brought the idea to life by creating Qudini – and since then she has turned the business into an international success, with clients including Samsung, O2, Specsavers, NatWest, Tesco, Tui and Brown Thomas.

In 2020, she launched the Retail Choreography framework – a new model that enables retailers to increase profitability and brand relevance by creating superior customer experiences, advanced operations and game-changing data capture points.

Karoline Gross – Smartzer – CEO & Founder

After setting up her first business, a video production company based in Los Angeles, Gross noticed a disconnect between video content and related information online, which sparked an idea – what if there was a technology that could make videos clickable, linking directly to related content?

In 2012, Gross founded Smartzer – a tech business that makes videos clickable and shoppable by allowing consumers to click on items within a video to see further information and links to purchase.

Since then, Gross has transformed Smartzer into a highly successful business with clients including LVMH, Marks & Spencer, Puma, Whistles, Galeries Lafayette, Jaguar Land Rover and Sephora.

Georgina Nelson - TruRating - CEO & Founder

After noticing how influential online review sites were becoming and how they were impacting consumers’ decisions, Nelson became concerned that these reviews were not reflecting the opinions of the general population. 

So, in 2013, Nelson set out to build a point-of-sale ratings system that would allow customers to have their voice heard with a simple tap from 0-9 – and that's how TruRating came into being. The system asks people one anonymous question rotated from a set during the payment process about their experience. As a result, TruRating provides retailers with accurate insights into what their customers really think about them.

Cathy McCabe – Proximity Insight – CEO

After a highly successful career that took her from the shop floor to the top technology leadership roles at brands such as Burberry and Jaeger, McCabe is now the CEO at start-upProximity Insight, which helps brands use customer data to super-charge their sales function. 

The Proximity Insight Retail Hub platform puts technology tools into the hands of sales associates to deliver personalised customer engagement and outreach that drives omni-channel customer journeys. 

After spending years in global retail and IT, McCabe is passionate about bridging the gap between digital and physical experiences by connecting customers, products and services.

Sarah McVittie – Dressipi – Co-founder & Co-CEO

After selling her first business, Texperts, a text message question answering service, in 2008, McVittie co-founded fashion technology start-up Dressipi in 2011. 

Dressipi offers women a truly tailored shopping experience through its machine learning-based fashion prediction platform which is built to provide personalised recommendations to customers. The firm works alongside some of the UK's leading retailers including Shop Direct, Jacques Vert Group, Arcadia Group and M&S.

The innovative fashion discovery and online styling service not only helps customers find clothes that match their 'digital fashion fingerprint', it also enables retailers to predict what customers are likely to buy using AI and algorithms to integrate the recommendations into their own applications and services.

Nidhima Kohli – Beauty Machine Engine – CEO & Founder 

After a successful career in investment banking, Nidhima Kohli made a career move into the beauty tech sector, by qualifying as a beautician and then launching her first business MyBeautyMatches.com – a personalised recommendation and price comparison site for beauty products.

And in 2019, Kohli utilised her beauty and tech expertise to create Beauty Matching Engine, an AI-driven personalisation and optimisation software built specifically for the beauty industry. 

The platform helps beauty companies personalise customer touchpoints by narrowing down customers’ choice, predicting each touchpoint in the consumer shopping journey, and subsequently increasing loyalty and conversion rates.

Laura Wynch – Validify – Co-founder

Coming from a management consulting background, Wynch put her strategic and operational expertise to good use by co-founding Validify, a marketplace connecting consumer-facing businesses such as retailers and brands with emerging tech start-ups from around the world.

Validify helps retailers and brands with everything from digital transformation through to omni-channel development, with the key aim of helping them innovate smarter, faster and without fear. 

Validify is part of a wider ecosystem dedicated to developing strong, strategic partnerships with corporates, VCs, innovation hubs, accelerators and media outlets. The platform is currently used by over 70 businesses across the UK and Europe.

These inspirational women are helping to lead the way in reshaping the future of retail through state-of-the-art technology solutions and services.

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