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How ULTA Is Leveraging Technology To Connect With Customers Featured

  • Written by  Debbie Hauss
How ULTA Is Leveraging Technology To Connect With Customers

The success speaks for itself at ULTA Beauty: The company has grown 20% in the last year and has increased its store count to 774 (100 new stores per year for the past two years), according to Dave Kimbell, CMO. Kimbell and ULTA CIO Diane Randolph shared the company's success story during the Oracle Industry Connect event in Washington D.C., March 25-26.

"Our vision is to become the favorite beauty destination, most loved and admired by guests, associates, communities, partners and investors," Kimbell explained. "It's so critical that when our guests come in they feel like the experience with associates delivering the information, content and experiences on a one-on-one basis is positive."

To that end, ULTA has been working to implement technology solutions that will help personalize and customer connections with customers. Specifically, ULTA has been focused on improving the e-Commerce side of its business in order to connect the dots across channels. In 2013 the beauty retailer implemented Oracle Endeca and Oracle ATG 10.2, and is focused on offering new video capabilities to better engage shoppers.

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Now, “Guests can click on products to buy while watching video content, which is a great way to organically get people engaged with our business,” Kimbell explained. “We’ve also launched live interactive chats with entrepreneurs and trend experts, which are supported with rich content linked back to the site for more detailed information and authority-building content.”

With a salon in every store, ULTA also is working to create a more cohesive cross-channel service experience for its customers looking to book salon appointments. Now shoppers can view the variety of salon services online in order to make more educated decisions about which service to schedule. As a result, the retailer has experienced a significant increase in the number and types of services being booked online.

ULTA also has improved its mobile capabilities by optimizing the mobile site for the iPad. The iPad app is about "fun and exploration," explained Randolph. "Shoppers can look at other shoppers' collections and create their own collections."

And ULTA is testing the use of iPads with store associates, who can share videos, access shopping activity and conduct a makeup consultation on-the-spot via the mobile device. This service is designed to improve the brand's loyalty program, which already includes 15 million members.

Omnichannel Is Recurring Theme At Oracle Event

Attendees at the annual Oracle event were treated to a number of presentations by retail executives, from companies including: Nordstrom, The Gap, John Lewis, adidas, Academy Sports, Chico's, Lilly Pulitzer and more. Recurring themes for sessions centered around omnichannel strategies and improving the customer experience with comprehensive technology solutions.

During keynote sessions, Oracle executives talked about the importance of delivering Commerce Anywhere capabilities to retailers. Mike Webster, SVP and GM, Oracle Retail, noted: "You don't have a big data problem, you have a small insight problem…Big Science is the answer."

Jill Puleri, Oracle's new SVP and GM, Global Retail Business Unit, discussed ways retailers are using mobile differently to address five elements of disruption: mobility, data breaches, same-day delivery, wearables and weather.

Both Webster and Puleri emphasized the importance of not getting caught up in the "shiny object syndrome," as described by Webster.

"It's time to get back to basics," added Puleri, and focus on the six Ps: "Price, product, promotion, place, profit and personalization."

In an effort to continue to focus on innovation, but in a predictable manner, Oracle is now updating solution releases on a 12- and 24-month cycle, Puleri explained.

During the event, Oracle executives also shared updates and insights around the recently completed acquisition of MICROS. During a press briefing, Bob Weiler, EVP of Oracle's Global Retail Business Unit, said that hospitality was "ripe to move to the cloud" and with Oracle's help, MICROS' many hospitality and retail clients will be able to transition to a cloud environment more seamlessly. With the acquisition of MICROS, Oracle has announced a new Hospitality Global Business Unit.

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