Ulta Beauty uses WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform to build trust in technology, reduce errors, and optimize inventory

40% reduction in training costs
114% projected annual ROI
96.4% user engagement

For Ulta Beauty, the largest beauty retailer in the US, effective inventory management is critical. To optimize its supply chain, Ulta Beauty invested in a sophisticated warehouse replenishment system. Despite utilization of the software provider’s expensive training certification program, as well as internal training development, users were still struggling with trusting the system’s recommendations. Frequent overrides to the system’s automated processes were leading to errors and excess inventory.

Ulta Beauty turned to WalkMe Digital Adoption Platform to customize and simplify onboarding and training. By creating a transparent overlay for the store and warehouse replenishment system, Ulta Beauty seamlessly added in-app help features that guided users through new and unfamiliar tasks. With help now available at the point of need and in real-time, support requests declined steeply. 96.4 % of total users inclusive of management with access to WalkMe engaged with the technology, increasing productivity, trust, and employee satisfaction. 

"With thousands of SmartTip views and Smart Walk-Thru plays, along with reduced clicks and navigation time, Ulta Beauty expects to see a projected 114% ROI on their WalkMe investment due to increased productivity, elimination of 3rd party led training, and reduced support requirements. Most importantly, we are building employee trust in the technology we’ve invested in, creating a more efficient workplace overall."
~ Elyse Sanneman
Manager, Merchandising and MP&I Training

Executive Summary

For Ulta Beauty, the largest beauty retailer in the US, effective inventory management is critical. To optimize its supply chain, Ulta Beauty invested in a sophisticated warehouse replenishment system. Despite utilization of the software provider’s expensive training certification program, as well as internal training development, users were still struggling with trusting the system’s recommendations. Frequent overrides to the system’s automated processes were leading to errors and excess inventory.

Ulta Beauty turned to WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform to customize and simplify onboarding and training. By creating a transparent overlay for the store and warehouse replenishment system, Ulta Beauty seamlessly added in-app help features that guided users through new and unfamiliar tasks. With help now available at the point of need and in real-time, support requests declined steeply. 96.4 % of total users inclusive of management with access to WalkMe engaged with the technology, increasing productivity, trust, and employee satisfaction.

"With thousands of SmartTip views and Smart Walk-Thru plays, along with reduced clicks and navigation time, Ulta Beauty expects to see a projected 114% ROI on their WalkMe investment due to increased productivity, elimination of 3rd party led training, and reduced support requirements. Most importantly, we are building employee trust in the technology we’ve invested in, creating a more efficient workplace overall."
~ Elyse Sanneman
Manager, Merchandising and MP&I Training

For Ulta Beauty, the largest beauty retailer in the US, effective inventory management is critical. To optimize its supply chain, Ulta Beauty invested in a sophisticated warehouse replenishment system. Despite utilization of the software provider’s expensive training certification program, as well as internal training development, users were still struggling with trusting the system’s recommendations. Frequent overrides to the system’s automated processes were leading to errors and excess inventory.

Ulta Beauty turned to WalkMe Digital Adoption Platform to customize and simplify onboarding and training. By creating a transparent overlay for the store and warehouse replenishment system, Ulta Beauty seamlessly added in-app help features that guided users through new and unfamiliar tasks. With help now available at the point of need and in real-time, support requests declined steeply. 96.4 % of total users inclusive of management with access to WalkMe engaged with the technology, increasing productivity, trust, and employee satisfaction. 

Executive Summary

For Ulta Beauty, the largest beauty retailer in the US, effective inventory management is critical. To optimize its supply chain, Ulta Beauty invested in a sophisticated warehouse replenishment system. Despite utilization of the software provider’s expensive training certification program, as well as internal training development, users were still struggling with trusting the system’s recommendations. Frequent overrides to the system’s automated processes were leading to errors and excess inventory.

Ulta Beauty turned to WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform to customize and simplify onboarding and training. By creating a transparent overlay for the store and warehouse replenishment system, Ulta Beauty seamlessly added in-app help features that guided users through new and unfamiliar tasks. With help now available at the point of need and in real-time, support requests declined steeply. 96.4 % of total users inclusive of management with access to WalkMe engaged with the technology, increasing productivity, trust, and employee satisfaction.

Executive Summary

For Ulta Beauty, the largest beauty retailer in the US, effective inventory management is critical. To optimize its supply chain, Ulta Beauty invested in a sophisticated warehouse replenishment system. Despite utilization of the software provider’s expensive training certification program, as well as internal training development, users were still struggling with trusting the system’s recommendations. Frequent overrides to the system’s automated processes were leading to errors and excess inventory.

Ulta Beauty turned to WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform to customize and simplify onboarding and training. By creating a transparent overlay for the store and warehouse replenishment system, Ulta Beauty seamlessly added in-app help features that guided users through new and unfamiliar tasks. With help now available at the point of need and in real-time, support requests declined steeply. 96.4 % of total users inclusive of management with access to WalkMe engaged with the technology, increasing productivity, trust, and employee satisfaction.

THE
Problem

Onboarding users on a complex inventory management system 

As the country’s largest beauty retailer, Ulta Beauty requires effective inventory management to sell more than 25,000 products from over 500 lines. Ordering the right products at the right time is critical—any breakdown in the supply chain can mean lost customers and a hit to the bottom line. With this in mind, Ulta Beauty invested in a sophisticated warehouse replenishment system they called Swift, which automates demand forecasting and reorders.

Onboarding employees on Swift proved to be a challenge because the training was not specific to Ulta Beauty’s customized processes. “The associates would get four days of generic training from the system provider, but once they logged onto Swift, Ulta Beauty’s processes and terminology were quite different from what they had been taught,” says Elyse Sanneman, Ulta Beauty’s Manager of Merchandising and MP&I Training. 

In addition, the in-person training sessions were long, expensive, and culminated in a lengthy test that Ulta Beauty associates found intimidating. The only other training support available was being created in-house, on-demand and included a 180-page user guide which was too tedious for associates to use.

Overwhelming requests for support

Because the training wasn’t effective, the Ulta Beauty administrator dedicated to Swift was overwhelmed by support requests. Associates stumbled when they logged into the software and, frustrated, filed support tickets instead of trying to find a solution. 

“A lot of the language in the system is not user friendly; we needed to help the user navigate through that language and through the system,” Sanneman says.

The third key challenge for Ulta Beauty was to give associates confidence in the new system. Prior to Swift, much of Ulta Beauty’s inventory forecasting and ordering was done manually. Associates, uneasy about the new automated system, would often override Swift to make changes. “They were actually going in and adjusting the suggested order quantity, which is something that really throws off the total algorithm of the system,” says Sanneman. “We were so used to the manual touch prior to Swift being implemented, the users felt like their jobs still required that intervention. We had to build employee & manager trust in the system.”

THE
Solution

Customized holistic training, online and offline

WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform offered a seamless solution to Ulta Beauty’s core challenges with Swift. WalkMe allowed the training team to place a customized, invisible overlay directly on top of Swift, enabling Ulta Beauty to add help and communication features directly in the application. Using this technology, Ulta Beauty developed a new, intuitive onboarding program. 

Now, the first time a user logs in, automated Smart Walk-Thrus guide them through the process of determining their user settings, including language and display preferences. “It’s only something they do once,” says Elyse Sanneman. “So why not just have those settings automatically update when they initiate the software?” 

Ulta Beauty also used WalkMe to set up daily pre- and post-work exercises to complement simplified classroom training. Short, frequent quizzes offered a way to check in on the effectiveness of training, without intimidation. 

“WalkMe really allows the instructor to focus on the big-picture concepts, instead of running users through all the processes within Swift.” Trainers now use valuable in-person time to discuss the most important concepts, while reinforcing to employees that WalkMe will be always available to answer how-to questions in real-time. Overall, WalkMe enabled a smooth, holistic training and onboarding experience, online and offline.

Help buttons instead of a help desk

To help ease the ongoing support burden, the Ulta Beauty training team compiled a list of the most common support questions related to Swift. Those were then turned into WalkMe help features, including SmartTips, Smart Walk-Thrus, and ShoutOuts.

“We created some Smart Walk-Thrus of the tasks that the associates don’t do all the time, that they would potentially need reminders for,” Sanneman says. “We created a number of help buttons throughout the system.” In this way, users’ questions were answered exactly at the point of need.

Ulta Beauty also used WalkMe to simplify processes, building shortcuts between different parts of the platform. “At times, associates have to do certain steps in one module, and then move into another module to complete the task,” Sanneman says. “We used automated Smart Walk-Thrus to bring them right to the location, minimizing clicks.” Productivity increased, and user frustration with complex processes virtually evaporated.

When processes change, Ulta Beauty can quickly update the Smart Walk-Thrus or ShoutOuts to reflect new steps or requirements. “Being agile with the enhancements that we create is another big benefit,” Sanneman says. “Also, as updates occur, pushing messages directly to users allows us to cut down on email communication and gain the ability to track which associates view the updates.”

Validating forms in real-time

While ordering and managing inventory, Swift users encounter a number of form fields, many of which have very specific parameters for successful completion—an extra space at the end of a number, for example, may lead to an error or invalid input. Ulta Beauty employs WalkMe Validation to automatically check fields to ensure the data entered matches specific requirements, greatly reducing errors and saving time.   

“Now users know right away when they’ve entered something incorrectly,” says Sanneman. “Our associates can understand their actions while they are doing that action.”

All of these pieces together helped boost user comfort with Swift. “WalkMe gives us the ability to make things easier for people,” Sanneman says. “That’s all we really want to do.”

THE
Results

User adoption results in increased productivity, decreased support burden

Swift users have embraced WalkMe, using the in-app assistance instead of raising support tickets. In three months of use, 96.4% of users with access to WalkMe engaged with the platform; 96.6% of those more than once. 

Sanneman says WalkMe transformed Ulta Beauty’s extremely busy holiday ordering process.   “Automation and SmartTips were especially important during setup for holiday orders this year, making it the first time our holiday order schedule was completed ahead of time! We were able to save users time during the order setup process by providing all the necessary field data and calendar dates right within the system. Over 1,250 holiday-specific SmartTip interactions occurred over the short 4-week ordering window. Unprompted, our users were saying that WalkMe made this the best holiday we’ve had so far.”

With thousands of SmartTip views and Smart Walk-Thru plays, along with reduced clicks and navigation time, Ulta Beauty expects to see a projected 114% ROI on their WalkMe investment due to increased productivity, elimination of 3rd party led training, and reduced support requirements. 

WalkMe Insights let the Ulta Beauty team see which users are interacting with the help features, and also how many people read ShoutOuts and notifications—which Ulta Beauty uses to alert associated about new features or upcoming service disruptions. “WalkMe gives us the ability to better interact with our users.” Sanneman says. 

Learning while doing

Sanneman also credits WalkMe for more effective training—training so intuitive, in fact, that users didn’t feel like they were formally learning at all. “They were learning while they were executing what they needed to,” says Sanneman. “It was not only saving time for them, but creating consistency amongst all the users.

“And that boosts satisfaction. They felt like they were able to do their jobs. They didn’t have to rely on somebody else to help them. They learned to trust themselves, and trust the system.”

About Ulta Beauty
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