Key CCG Services

Since the day its innovative concept launched in 1990, ULTA® Beauty has collected customer data through its loyalty program, today known as Ultamate Rewards.® The health and beauty product retailer supported the program through an internal loyalty platform. But as the program evolved and membership grew into the millions, ULTA outgrew its platform. The loyalty team became increasingly frustrated trying to implement targeted offers and triggered communications, as well as having to rely on IT resources for simple queries and requests.

By 2009, the retailer knew it needed to invest in a third-party loyalty platform that would allow its loyalty team to develop and manage advanced segmentation, targeting and reporting. It quickly became apparent, however, that the search was more complex and complicated than expected: There were a variety of potential vendors specializing in retail — but no well-known, best-in-class solutions. A particular challenge for ULTA was identifying a solution that would support one of their key business requirements for real-time transaction processing of loyalty awards and redemptions.

The loyalty team became increasingly frustrated trying to implement targeted offers and triggered communications.

Assistance Arrives — and Gets to Work

In order to ensure that the platform they chose would meet current and future needs, ULTA compiled a team of experts to conduct the search. This included CCG representatives as the subject matter experts.

Together, the group managed a two-month search that started with a robust discovery process. This step resulted in detailed business requirements that were used to create an RFI, which was sent to a long list of potential vendors.

Having subject matter experts in retail IT and loyalty dedicated to the project was particularly instrumental in the next step: developing a scripted demonstration, scorecard and clear requirements to identify finalists. These pieces allowed the ULTA team to fully understand the capabilities and gaps for each finalist.

The Mission Alters — We Adapt

After extensive internal review of the two final candidates, ULTA’s IT and loyalty staff decided on a change of course. They determined it would be more effective to create a proprietary loyalty platform — one that would overcome the identified gaps while keeping within the budget range.

The detailed business requirements and future-state architecture developed by the expert team gave ULTA the right starting point to launch a solution build. CCG worked closely with the ULTA internal teams and outside programmers to develop the new loyalty platform and integrate it with ULTA’s other retail systems, including the POS, pricing and BI.

Success — Once and Again

ULTA launched its proprietary platform in 2010 and continues using it today. The ULTA team noted that having dedicated experts — familiar with both retail and loyalty, from a business as well as a technical perspective — was key to accurately defining future needs and guiding the company throughout the decision process. Fresh off this success, ULTA approached CCG for additional assistance in 2011. This time, we managed the search for a third-party CRM solution to manage member and non-member communications and preferences. Using a streamlined version of the same methodology used in the original loyalty platform search, we ultimately helped the retailer identify a solution that was not on the company’s original potential vendor list. The CRM system was installed in 2012.