Ulta Beauty acquires QM Scientific, GlamSt

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.