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01/18/2022

Ulta Beauty automates omnichannel personalization

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Ulta Beauty storefront
Ulta Beauty is personalizing its customer experience.

Ulta Beauty is focusing on creating highly personalized customer experiences – across channels and at scale.

The beauty giant is deploying the SAS Customer Intelligence 360 engagement platform to support its marketing technology needs. With more than 95% sales penetration and 34 million active members in its Ultamate Rewards Program loyalty offering, the company sought a solution to manage high volumes of critical customer-level data.

Ulta Beauty leverages SAS Customer Intelligence 360 to manage a variety of marketing and customer engagement programs, including credit, loyalty, customer insights, and surveys. To date, the company says it has seen significant results in three core areas: automation, participation and retention. By automating aspects of creation and execution, multilevel customer journeys that used to take days can now be finalized in minutes or hours.

Looking forward, Ulta Beauty intends to continue using the SAS Customer Intelligence 360 platform to enhance individual customer journeys. This effort will include making sure the right offers are delivered at the right time and in the right channels, thus avoiding irrelevant offers and communications oversaturation.

Additionally, Ulta Beauty will add reinforcement learning to customer journey orchestration to help guide its loyalty members in an effort to deepen brand affinity and engagement. The company anticipates this personalized guidance, as opposed to pushing select products, will result in improved engagement, a better overall experience, and increased margin and revenues.

 Ulta Beauty has been making a number of investments in smart technology to improve the customer experience. In October 2021, the retailer laid out its strategic priorities and long-term financial targets for fiscal 2022 through 2024. On the technology side, these included launching a partnership with Google to leverage Ulta’s virtual try-on tool for lipstick and eyeshadow with select brands within Google’s Search and YouTube platforms. 

Ulta also announced a strategic investment and partnership with Adeptmind, an AI retail technology company, to power a new personalized search engine for the retailer’s “digital store of the future,” which will anticipate shoppers’ beauty needs with personalized information.

“Helping our loyal guests find beauty favorites and experiences tailored to their wants, needs and values in a timely fashion creates an even more satisfying shopping environment,” said Kelly Mahoney, VP of member marketing at Ulta Beauty. “The combination of cutting-edge analytics, advanced CRM capabilities and deep retail industry expertise that SAS brings to our partnership elevates our efforts to truly personalize each customer journey.”

“The ability to manage multiple delivery channels with a single interface that has built-in automation provides our team with strong outputs and significant time savings,” said Melissa Berscheid, senior director for member marketing technology at Ulta Beauty. “The partnership is valuable on many levels, and the more automated we continue to become, we can offer our guests even greater possibilities. Being able to activate data in SAS Customer Intelligence 360 and apply AI and machine learning techniques, such as customer journey optimization, allows us to lead the future of customer engagement. It’s truly an exciting time.”

“Understanding the customer and deploying meaningful communications are essential in today’s environment,” said Richard Widdowson, VP of global retail and consumer goods solutions at SAS. “Together, Ulta Beauty and SAS have evolved customer engagement through artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to turn fast-moving data into precise actions.”