Like many retailers, Ulta Beauty's supply chain was upended by the pandemic. With its 1,300+ retail locations shut down for 13 weeks in 2020, the company's supply chain needed to transform to a completely digital enterprise quickly. The keys to the company's successful digital transformation came down to strong leadership focused on collaboration, continuous improvement, strategic mindset, and lots of grit, explained Jennifer Kobus, vice president of transportation, during an educational session on Monday at CSCMP's EDGE conference.
"We knew we needed to build a sustained, specific plan to deal with capacity, overall inventory strategy, and decide what technologies and talent were needed to execute and drive this digital transformation," said Kobus.
The supply chain executive team started with a targeted leadership vision. The goal was to empower associates to make quick decisions, remove barriers of execution, and develop a team that could be true leaders in their space. The team developed a framework to make sure the company's associates had the right tools to be successful, the right development and education to make the right decisions, and to make sure there was a proper structure in place to support them.
To execute the company's initiative, the team created 3 pillars to support the digital transformation.The pillars included:
1. Network: Ulta re-evaluated their network, not just the distribution centers and overall footprint, but they made sure to include transportation. The team asked, "How do we get the right product to the right place at the right time?"
2. Innovation & technology: Technology is critical. The supply chain team identified the gaps in their technology systems and focused on finding technology that they would need to close those gaps.
3. Capabilities & processes: The last pillar focused on the capabilities and processes they needed to optimize processes to drive simplicity and efficiency within their supply chain.
Of course no transformation can be truly successful without people. As Kobus explained, "If you bring about a transportation within your organization, you absolutely must think about talent." Talent development, leadership programs, and mentorship opportunities have been instrumental as the company continues to strive for operational excellence and supply chain optimization.
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