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Ulta Beauty acquires QM Scientific, GlamSt

BY Marianne Wilson

Ulta Beauty has made its first-ever acquisitions — and they both are in the tech field.

The beauty giant’s digital strategy is moving into high gear as it starts to slowly pull back on its aggressive brick-and-mortar expansion and build a “digital innovation ecosystem.” In a press release, Ulta said it has invested in digital workflow partner Iterate and an online booking tool called Spruce. The company also has acquired two technology start-ups in artificial intelligence and augmented reality — QM Scientific and GlamSt — which the retailer said will allow it to better build out its AR and AI capabilities, especially as they relate to personalization.

On the brick-and-mortar front, Ulta increased its store build-out from the previous range of 1,400 to 1,700 stores to a range of 1,500 to 1,700 stores — as of Nov. 3, the retailer operated 1,163 locations across 50 states. It plans to open 80 stores in 2019, 75 in 2020 and 70 in 2021, in sync with “a stronger focus on optimizing the store portfolio.”

In addition, Ulta said it now is targeting e-commerce fulfillment of two day-delivery by 2021, supported by the opening of a “fast fulfillment” center in 2019 serving e-commerce only orders, and the implementation of ship-from-store capability in select stores.

Ulta announced its latest moves in conjunction with its 2018 analyst and investor conference.

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Walmart preparing to launch a new tech lab

BY DSN STAFF

The discount giant is augmenting its fleet of innovation labs with a new concept — one that is housed inside a store.

Walmart is preparing to launch what it calls an Intelligent Retail Lab, or IRL. The lab, which is located inside its store in Levittown, N.Y., will test both associate and customer experiences, according to TechCrunch.

In addition to using artificial intelligence, or AI, to better identify when items are running low and proactively replenishing stock, Walmart also envisions using the technology to identify spills, better understand when shopping carts are running low near the entrance, and identify when items are on the wrong shelf, the report said.

The project, which is being led by an internal team called Kepler, is currently housed within Walmart’s start-up incubator store No. 8. The Levittown store is currently installing hardware, software and the other necessary equipment needed to launch the test, TechCrunch said.

To read more, click here.

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Dollar General gets in the holiday spirit with charitable donations

BY DSN STAFF

Dollar General is getting in the holiday spirit by announcing its deals for the season, which includes savings at more than 15,000 stores across 44 states.

Since the season is one for giving, the Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based company plans on doing just that by furthering its mission of serving others. The retailer will donate nearly $600,000 to support community schools, libraries, Maine Toys for Tots Foundation and St. Jude’s“Thanks and Giving” campaign.

“This holiday, we remain committed to providing our customers with the affordable items they need to celebrate the season in a convenient, neighborhood store,” Jason Reiser, Dollar General’s executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, said. “At Dollar General, we are also focused on giving back this holiday season, and we are excited to provide community organizations and national partners with nearly $600,000 as part of our mission of serving others.”

From Nov. 16 to Dec. 7, Dollar General will host local toy drives with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and in-store fundraisers to benefit St. Jude’s“Thanks and Giving” campaign, and allow customers to make donations in its stores.

For those looking to prepare for Thanksgiving, the retailer will offer deals on such essentials as bakeware, batter, electronics, movies, holiday home décor, gift options and more from Nov. 18 to 21.

On Nov. 22, shoppers can save on Lego sets and buy one and get 75% off on all toys. In addition, customers can save 50% on tree décor, holiday lights, trees, ornaments, tree skirts and tree toppers.

The retailer also will offer extended store hours for shoppers throughout the holiday season.

On Thanksgiving, all stores will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Black Friday, the store will resume its normal hours of operation. From Dec. 21 to 23, store closings will be extended to 11 p.m. On Christmas Eve, stores will close at 10 p.m., and be closed on Christmas Day. Dec. 26 will see locations return to its normal operating hours.

Further information can be found on the company’s website.

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