Tech Transformation Podcast: Ulta Beauty’s Kelly Mahoney On Mobile-First Omnichannel Personalization

Over 95% of Ulta Beauty's sales come from members of its loyalty program.  With that in mind, is it any wonder they’re hyper-focused on taking their game to the next level when it comes to personalization technology? 

In this episode of Tech Transformation, we’re talking with Kelly Mahoney, Ulta Beauty’s VP of customer marketing, about how they’re standing out in a sea of loyalty programs. We’re joined by Richard Widdowson,  VP, global retail & CPG solutions at SAS and a member of the CGT/RIS Executive Council, who shares how retailers are using data and analytics to make these decisions about consumer experiences more quickly than ever. 

Listen to learn: 

  • How Ulta Beauty’s Glam Lab virtual beauty tool is paying off
  • How its mobile experiences and technology are supporting consumer experiences and in-store associates
  • How the value of the store experience differs by generation, especially with Gen Z
  • How data and analytics are helping retailers react to consumer trends more quickly


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Mahoney on personalization: “We're really fortunate to have over 95% of our sales coming from members of the Ultamate Rewards loyalty program. So that means we have access to a lot of first-party data about our guests that we can use to personalize experiences across all the ways that our guests are interacting with us.

“We have things like our recommendations engine that are powering personalized suggestions for products. We're using next-best decisioning algorithms that help us anticipate and support the exploration of beauty with our guests. And we're even using it to power the offers that we deliver to our guests in an optimized way for things like the right audiences or to optimize for responses that support the conversion of the purchase for our guests.”

Mahoney on mobile-first omnichannel: “I think the important distinction is the acknowledgement that personalization is about reaching the consumer where the consumer is, across all the ways that they shop with Ulta Beauty. … The mobile-first reflects our strategy to enable these personalized experiences.

“Really, leveraging the mobile device is kind of that handshake to experiencing us. We know our consumer is connected, even when they're shopping inside our stores. Consumers are using that device to check for things like product reviews and ratings. They're using it to discover and to explore — even to check whether or not they have a relevant offer in the moment. And so our consumers are telling us that we need to think about personalization in different ways to engage our customer more fluidly and more seamlessly — and it doesn't hurt to make it more enjoyable.”

Widdowson on using data and analytics to react and respond to consumer trends: “The analytical capability [that] comes into play here is … the ability to very quickly filter through that massive data, surface up the information that's really relevant for the decision that you're trying to make, and serve that up in a way [that] the person on Kelly's team that can actually take an action from that data and do it very, very quickly. …  But then it's the ability to keep monitoring that behavior and the accuracy of those decisions that are being served up to make sure you're getting that repeatable best outcome every single day as you go forward.”

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