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09/06/2022

Ulta Beauty develops cutting-edge digital experiences via ‘low code’ strategy

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Ulta Beauty storefront
Ulta Beauty is adopting ‘low code’ development.

Ulta Beauty is developing innovative online experiences with pre-built modules.

The beauty giant has been partnering with enterprise technology development platform provider Iterate.ai since 2016 to develop deploy and scale a number of leading-edge digital customer experiences. Ulta Beauty uses the company’s Interplay middleware solution, a drag-and-drop environment for rapid app development and production via modularized, pre-built components.

Interplay delivers Ulta Beauty a low-code environment featuring both customization and drag-and-drop functionality. The platform includes 475 pre-built modules that offer features such as advanced AI/ML, IoT, voice, headless commerce, blockchain, data integration, and API connections.

“We could not have built the cutting-edge applications as efficiently as we did without our partners at Iterate.ai,” said Michelle Pacynski, VP of digital innovation, Ulta Beauty. “As early believers and first-movers on Iterate’s low-code invention, we quickly understood which applications were going to work and which weren’t. The ability to experiment rapidly allowed us to make confident, data-backed decisions that have allowed us to capitalize on opportunities where we can authentically and directly engage our guests in various experiences.”

Utilizing Interplay, Ulta Beauty has been able to develop a number of customer-facing solutions with fast experimentation and a reduced need for hardcoding. These include an artificial intelligence (AI)-based skincare virtual beauty advisor it offers on the ulta.com. e-commerce site. The virtual advisor enables customers to browse the retailer’s skincare assortment by concern or by-product.

The virtual beauty advisor asks a series of dynamically generated questions and presents a set of personalized recommendations that can be further reviewed, and then purchased.

[Read more: Ulta Beauty shoppers behold new AR, AI features]

Other digitally-enabled customer service offerings Ulta Beauty has developed with Interplay include curbside pickup. Initially launched in May 2020 as many stores remained closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the curbside offering was an extension of Ulta’s existing (and at that time paused) buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) service and used a similar process.

“Ulta Beauty exemplifies how a dedicated, low-code strategy can power a transformative pace of innovation—in this case, around 10 times faster than hardcoding,” said Brian Sathianathan, CTO, Iterate.ai. “When a business can deliver exciting, new features and adapt to customer needs with low-code speed, they rapidly gain customer satisfaction and competitive differentiation. We’re proud of our partnership and look forward to continued success with Interplay and Ulta Beauty’s innovation team.”

Based in Bolingbrook, Ill., Ulta Beauty had a total of 1,318 stores as of the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2022.