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How Ulta Beauty powers digital transformation with Google Cloud smart analytics

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As I’ve shared in past blog posts, digital technology offers increasing flexibility and choice to consumers, the retail industry is dramatically shifting toward more tailored and personalized experiences for shoppers, and businesses are rethinking how they deliver value to customers. This couldn’t be more true for the beauty retailing industry where leading companies are turning to digital technology to create customized shopping experiences. I’m particularly excited to talk about Google Cloud’s work with Ulta Beauty, the largest beauty retailer in the United States with more than 1196 stores in all 50 states, and how the company is using our technology solutions to power personalization and redefine beauty retailing.

Established in 1990, Ulta Beauty has had incredible success as a company, and as customers become more discerning and curious about their purchases, the company is finding new ways to meet their changing needs. Recently, leaders at Ulta Beauty recognized a huge opportunity to complement and enhance the shopping experience by helping beauty enthusiasts navigate through more than 500 brands and 25,000 products carried in their stores and online channel. They decided to leverage the data from Ulta Beauty’s successful Ultamate Rewards loyalty program to create and offer more unique and personalized user experiences.

With more than 30 million members generating data through sales, transactions, product reviews, and social media engagement, Ulta Beauty’s Loyalty Program creates a comprehensive data set, and the company sought the right technology partner to help organize, analyze and transform that data into valuable insights for its customers. Ulta Beauty’s leaders knew they had an opportunity to leverage data analytics and machine learning to reach customers in new ways, enhance the guest experience, and continue to grow their active loyalty member base. After considering a number of cloud providers, they chose to expand their existing partnership with Google Cloud.

“Google Cloud listened to our needs and worked in tandem with our engineering team to address our challenges,” said Michelle Pacynski,, vice president of digital innovation at Ulta Beauty. “The ease of working with the Google Cloud team and their breadth of experience made the decision a no-brainer, laying the foundation for a great partnership.”  

In 2019, Ulta Beauty announced it was working with Google Cloud Platform to unify and organize its data, using:

  • BigQuery to perform data analysis and generate dynamic content, personalized product recommendations, and event-based messages for customers.
  • Cloud Storage to provide highly available, secure, resilient and cost-effective access to data across the entire enterprise.
  • Compute Engine for the high-performance scalability needed to grow with customer demand while painlessly migrating existing applications to the cloud.
  • Anthos to build a hybrid cloud foundation that allows their applications to take advantage of all this data, combining the power and flexibility of GKE with the ability to leverage their existing investment in secure infrastructure on-premises.

Our partnership with Ulta Beauty has enabled increased engagement with customers in store and online, and the creation of new tools and capabilities, including a new Virtual Beauty Advisor tool to deliver tailored recommendations and help shoppers choose the right products, and a Customer Conversation Platform that’s enabling deeper connections with guests, ultimately driving customer loyalty.

“It’s been a really efficient process so far due in part to the ease of working with the Google team,” said Michelle Pacynski, vice president of digital innovation at Ulta Beauty. “They’re experienced, approachable, and their can-do style makes for a great partnership. They listened to our needs and worked in tandem with our engineering team, figuring things out, and getting it done.”

We look forward to continuing this great partnership with Ulta Beauty and helping to power the company’s digital transformation as it finds new ways to meet the unique needs of customers.

To learn more about how Google Cloud is helping retail businesses win the hearts of customers with more flexible, secure and integrated big data solutions, visit our website.