At Shoptalk 2024, retail leaders shared invaluable insights and strategies for managing today’s e-commerce trends. Ulta Beauty and Levi Strauss & Co. shared how their businesses are adapting to ever-changing consumer demand. Technology is allowing retailers to stay ahead of trends while promoting growth.

Ulta Reflects on Supply Chain Transformation Half-Way Through Its 5-Year Plan

Amiee Bayer-Thomas, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Ulta Beauty, said the retailer’s supply chain transformation centers around agility, innovation and investment in people. The retailer is also halfway through its five-year supply chain transformation process. Ulta is enhancing efficiency and responsiveness across its supply chain network.

Ulta has invested in technology, facilities and workforce development. The three pillars Bayer-Thomas focused on include:

  1. Network: Ulta is focusing on its footprint, transportation portfolio and ensuring the right product is at the right place at the right time for the right costs, she said.
  2. Innovation and technology: Bayer-Thomas noted that the retailer is considering how automation technology sets Ulta up for success.
  3. Unlocking new capabilities and processes that will drive simplification and optimization across the network.

Ulta’s distribution centers are undergoing retrofitting to introduce automation and optimize operations while ensuring continuity of services. Market fulfillment centers are smaller-format centers that complement regional distribution centers. These focus on fast-selling SKUs to improve speed and delivery to stores and customers.

Bayer-Thomas also noted that the retailer plans to introduce autonomous mobile robots in its market fulfillment centers.

Bayer-Thomas noted that regional distribution centers currently fulfill orders for both stores and e-commerce, carrying Ulta’s entire inventory assortment. Nearly 500 Ulta brick-and-mortar stores now offer same-day delivery and ship-from-store capabilities.

Levi Strauss Aims to Expand E-Commerce to Over Half its Total Business

Levi Strauss & Co.’s Jason Gowans, SVP and Chief Digital Officer, shared that the retailer is supporting a composable commerce approach to technology. Being able to rapidly innovate the consumer journey is key, especially for areas like discovery, product recommendations, and building confidence in purchases.

  • Composable commerce: Allows brands to switch out various components of their tech stacks, allowing them to customize the retail experience for consumers. This supports Levi’s strategy of being brand-led and having a diversified portfolio as it grows new categories and markets.
  • Rapid innovation for the enhanced customer experience: Gowans emphasized the importance of understanding the comprehensive costs associated with implementing innovation solutions to support Levi’s strategy.
  • Support direct-to-consumer (DTC) growth: With over 40% of Levi’s business already DTC online and in store, Gowans said composable architecture is important to facilitating further growth. The brand plans to expand e-commerce to over 55% of total business.