BEAUTY CARE

Ulta adds retail vet to board

BY David Salazar

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. — Ulta Beauty has a new board member. The company announced Tuesday that it had added George Mrkonic, Paperchase Products Limited’s non-executive chairman, to its board of directors. He will also serve on the company’s audit committee.

“We are excited to welcome George to Ulta Beauty’s Board of Directors,” Ulta CEO Mary Dillon said. “He brings extensive retail industry knowledge as well as strategic, financial and corporate governance skills from his experience as a senior executive and director of many public companies. I’m confident that George’s insight and expertise will be extremely valuable to Ulta Beauty as we continue to execute our growth strategy.” 

Mrkonic has over 30 years of retail industry experience and has been at Paperchase since 1999, where he became non-executive chairman in 2005. He has led companies like Eyelab, Kmart Specialty Retailing Group and Borders Group. Mrkonic also is a member of the boards of Brinker International, AutoZone, Syntel and Gordon Brothers Group. 

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Synchrony Financial shares 4 most-valued customer experiences

BY Michael Johnsen

STAMFORD, Conn. — The in-store customer experience trumps price sensitivity, according to a Synchrony Financial survey released Wednesday that examined 27 elements of the shopping experience. More than half of shoppers say they would pay a higher price for the customer experiences they value most, and 77% of shoppers would be more loyal to stores that provide their personal top three customer experiences. 
 
“Retailers that build lasting loyalty know their customer’s preferences and integrate these elements into the shopping experience,” stated Toni White, chief marketing officer, Synchrony Financial. “This study reinforces the finding that purchase decisions are driven by positive, practical and personalized experiences, in addition to a compelling price/value equation.”
 
Of the 27 retail elements studied, four emerged as most valuable to consumers and indicate the importance of simplifying and easing the shopping experience:
 
  1. Pick your own sale items ranked highest in the survey, with 42% of customers finding this a valuable shopping feature;
  2. Hassle-free returns was noted by 41% of respondents as important, with favorite benefits such as no time limit, no need for a receipt and free postage on returns;
  3. No coupons needed to always get the sale price is key for 40% of participants who automatically want the lowest price without having to clip or find discounts; and
  4. Earn points to redeem for extra savings is ranked by 33% of shoppers as an important benefit and may lead them to spend more with the retailer when rewards are easy to accumulate and redeem.
Certain experiences matter more than others to different shopper segments. The vast majority of millennials (89%) indicate they would be more loyal to retailers offering the benefits they want most. Millennials (69%) and Gen Xers (55%) are also more likely to pay more for the experiences they value.
 
Across mass merchants, specifically, 57% of customers want a one-stop shopping experience and good discounts, deals and prices; the merchandise they want; and to make one trip with products that are easy to find.
 
The study focused on apparel, department store and mass merchant retailers and included more than 1,000 consumers nationwide who make household financial decisions, have a credit card, and shopped at one of 35 retailers in the past 12 months.

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Amazon.com expands Prime Now to LA following Walgreens, Target moves

BY Michael Johnsen

SEATTLE — In the wake of Tuesday's news that Walgreens was partnering with Postmates on same-day delivery service and Target's partnership with Instacart on grocery delivery, Amazon.com on Wednesday upped the ante by expanding the reach of its Prime Now service, the company’s one-hour delivery service, to Los Angeles and Orange County including areas such as Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, Silver Lake and Irvine. Amazon has established four Prime Now hubs in southern California to date.
 
In the next few days, Prime Now will also add deliveries from some of LA’s local stores, such as Sprouts Farmers Market, Bristol Farms, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Fresh & Easy, Erewhon Organic Grocer and 99 Ranch Market.
 
“Customers love the convenience of getting items delivered right to their doors in under an hour,” Stephenie Landry, director of Amazon’s Prime Now service, said. “The logistical expertise that we’ve developed since day one fuels Prime Now and we’re excited to expand one- and two-hour delivery to Los Angeles and surrounding areas.”
 
In Los Angeles, Prime Now is available from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Two-hour delivery is free and one-hour delivery is available for $7.99.
 
With the addition of Los Angeles, Prime Now operates in 13 cities worldwide.

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