News Briefs


Ulta Beauty Taps Low-Code-Driven Digital Innovation


Ulta Beauty has been using a low-code strategy to facilitate fast-paced experimentation for years.

To achieve this, the beauty retailer leverages’s Interplay to develop, deploy, and scale a number of innovative digital experiences for its customers. Ulta  was early to adopt a low-code strategy for rapid application development and iteration. The retailer first partnered with in 2016 to empower its digital innovation team to experiment with cutting-edge digital technologies while reducing the resources needed to hardcode in new capabilities. This fast-paced experimentation process led to numerous digital experiences now familiar to Ulta Beauty shoppers, including the company’s guest services chatbot, AI-powered virtual beauty advisor, and curbside pickup, among others.

“We could not have built the cutting-edge applications as efficiently as we did without our partners at,” said Michelle Pacynski, VP of digital innovation, Ulta Beauty. “As early believers and first-movers on Iterate’s low-code invention, we quickly understood which applications were going to work and which weren’t. The ability to experiment rapidly allowed us to make confident, data-backed decisions that have allowed us to capitalize on opportunities where we can authentically and directly engage our guests in various experiences.”

Powered by Interplay, Ulta Beauty’s guest services chatbot provides a virtual assistant interface to help guests track orders, ask questions, learn about beauty services, and understand shopping options across channels and categories. The company’s AI-powered virtual beauty advisor provides personalized skincare recommendations based on dynamic questions in response to individual needs. Curbside pickup, which became essential as the pandemic unfolded, was swiftly built and deployed within weeks.

To enable rapid application development, iterative improvements, and large-scale production deployments, Interplay delivers a low-code environment featuring both extensive tooling and drag-and-drop simplicity. The intelligent, low-code platform includes 475 pre-built modules that offers users full command of advanced AI/ML, IoT, voice, headless commerce, blockchain, data integration, and API connections to both startups and legacy systems. Leveraging Interplay’s architecture and intuitive interface, developers of any experience level can assemble modules to quickly and securely build and test new applications. Compared with teams utilizing traditional code-writing methods, the solution regularly achieves significantly faster development for its users.


CVS to Buy Signify Health for $8 Billion

a store front at day

CVS Health will acquire Signify Health for around value of approximately $8 billionSignify offers proprietary analytics and technology platforms to enable a network of more than 10,000 clinicians across all 50 states to make house calls. 

"Signify Health will play a critical role in advancing our health care services strategy and gives us a platform to accelerate our growth in value-based care," said CVS Health president and CEO, Karen S. Lynch. "This acquisition will enhance our connection to consumers in the home and enables providers to better address patient needs as we execute our vision to redefine the health care experience. In addition, this combination will strengthen our ability to expand and develop new product offerings in a multi-payor approach."

CVS and Signify anticipate that the transaction will close in the first half of 2023.

Signify Health

Signify Health's network of clinicians physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants utilize home-based visits to identify a patient's clinical and social needs, and then connect them to appropriate follow-up care and community-based resources. In 2022, Signify Health's clinicians expect to connect with nearly 2.5 million unique members in the home, both in-person and virtually, and on average they spend 2.5 times longer with a patient in the home than providers spend in the average primary care office visit.

Since acquiring Caravan Health in March 2022, Signify Health has further expanded its focus on value-based care and population health. Today, Caravan is already a partner to over 170 providers participating in accountable care organizations (ACOs) serving Medicare beneficiaries with a focus on improving the health of underserved communities. Signify Health recently announced that its ACOs generated more than $138 million in gross savings in 2021, and in 2023 the Caravan business is expected to serve ACOs representing over 700,000 people rivaling many standalone platforms.

As part of CVS Health, Signify Health will continue to advance its extensive primary care enablement capabilities, including turnkey analytics, network, and practice improvement solutions, to help providers transition to value-based reimbursement and improve quality of care.

"Signify Health's mission is to build trusted relationships to make people healthier by using actionable intelligence to understand what's really impacting outcomes and cost today," said Kyle Armbrester, CEO of Signify Health. "As we carefully considered our long-term strategic options, we determined that CVS Health is the ideal partner, given its focus on expanding access to health services and helping consumers navigate to the best sites of care. We are both building an integrated experience that supports a more proactive, preventive and holistic approach to patient care, and I look forward to executing on our shared vision for the future of care delivery."

"We formed Signify Health and recruited Kyle and the team to build a strategic innovation platform focused on leveraging technology as a catalyst for connecting key health care stakeholders to drive better patient outcomes," said Matt Holt, chairman of the board, Signify Health and president of private equity and managing director at New Mountain Capital, which owns a majority stake in Signify Health. "Together with CVS Health, Signify is uniquely positioned to continue to lead the transformation to value-based care. We look forward to the significant impact this transaction will make on health care for years to come."

Following the close of the transaction, Kyle Armbrester will continue to lead Signify Health as part of CVS Health. Signify Health's extensive network of over 50 health plan clients and their members will further augment CVS Health's offering of payor-agnostic solutions for a diverse set of health plan and employer clients.


Meijer to Open New Grocery Store Concept


Meijer will launch a new brick-and-mortar store concept next year, the grocer’s latest since introducing the neighborhood market small format concept in August 2018.

The first two Meijer Grocery stores will open in early 2023 in neighborhoods within southeast Michigan's Orion Township and Macomb Township.

"Our customers know they can count on us for the freshest foods and best value, which has always been at the core of what we do at Meijer," Meijer president & CEO Rick Keyes said. "Meijer Grocery will now provide that same combination of freshness and value in a foods focused format in your local community."

Meijer Grocery stores will range from 75,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet, and will include the following departments in a condensed, and quick-to-navigate footprint: Fresh Produce; Fresh Meat Counter; Bakery equipped with in-store cake decorators; Full-service deli; Dry Grocery; Pharmacy; Health & beauty care; Baby, pets, and consumables; Card & party and floral.

"We're excited to provide our customers with yet another way to shop," said Don Sanderson, group vice president of Foods at Meijer. "This new concept store will not only provide our customers with everything they need on their weekly shopping trip, but also a quick and easy solution for when they realize they left the key ingredient off their list while cooking dinner."

In addition to their smaller footprint, Meijer Grocery stores will be convenient by design with parking wrapped around a singular corner entrance to maximize the number of parking spaces near the door. Meijer Grocery will also offer some of the same features as a Meijer supercenter, including mPerks, Shop and Scan, Meijer Home Delivery and Pickup.


Dollar General Shakes up Its Retail Leadership


Dollar General is updating its leadership team with a slew of new hires and promotions, including a new president and CFO, SVP of technology engineering, SVP of store operations, and VP of end user support.

John Garratt will be promoted to president and chief financial officer effective September 1, 2022. He will retain his role as CFO, and as president, Garratt will add responsibilities for the company’s strategic initiative relating to healthcare and its international expansion to Mexico. Garratt joined Dollar General in 2014 as senior vice president of finance and strategy and has served as executive vice president and CFO since December 2015.

Shweta Bhatia has joined Dollar General as senior vice president of technology engineering. Bhatia brings more than 20 years of retail, technology and leadership experience in solution delivery and transformational strategic initiatives to the IT team. In this role, she will lead the company’s technology product engineering plus technology and data engineering domains.

Zak Brining has been promoted to senior vice president of corporate store operations. In this role, Brining will continue overseeing store operations workforce management, communication and compliance, and store process improvement while adding responsibilities in store facilities management. He joined Dollar General in 2016 and has held roles of increasing responsibility in store operations.

Donny Lau has been promoted to senior vice president and chief strategy officer. Lau joined Dollar General in 2017 and most recently served as vice president, investor relations and corporate strategy. He will continue focusing on developing and evolving DG’s strategic vision and initiatives, implementing strategic partnerships and identifying long-term growth catalysts.

Jim Sullivan has been promoted to senior vice president of store operations with responsibility for more than 8,000 locations across the northern half of the U.S. He joined the Company in 2003 as a regional director and has held roles of increasing responsibility including divisional vice president of two divisions. Jim will continue to provide training support for field leaders, elevating operations and merchandising acumen across the enterprise.

Rich Szellan has been promoted to senior vice president of procurement and margin improvement. He joined Dollar General in 2009 as senior director of merchandising operations and has held roles of increasing responsibility in procurement, global sourcing and private brands and in 2017 was promoted to vice president of marketing and private brands. In his new role, Szellan will expand his role in driving profitability and procurement, including supplier diversity.

Dan Connow has been promoted to vice president of store operations. He joined the company in 2017 as director of demand chain management and most recently served as senior director of store operations. In his new role he will be responsible for workforce management and labor planning in addition to his current responsibilities over process improvement.

Maty Kiser has joined Dollar General as vice president of end user support. She brings more than 30 years of experience in technology-related roles across multiple industries, including expertise in enterprise-level change management transforming how organizations work with a customer-first perspective. In this role, Maty will lead the DG End User Support Services team providing customer service support, both internally and externally.

Matt Sikes has joined Dollar General as vice president and chief compliance officer. Sikes’ 20-plus years of experience, including several years in retail and financial service sectors, will bring a focus on building international compliance and protecting corporate brands to DG. In this role, he will collaborate with multiple teams to ensure the Company continues to incorporate compliance into its operations.

Kevin Walker has been promoted to vice president of investor relations. He joined Dollar General in 2010 as a senior staff account and earned roles of increasing responsibility, most recently as senior director of investor relations in 2019. In this role, Walker will manage the company’s relationships with the investment community, helping communicate earnings, growth benchmarks, and long-term strategy.


IKEA U.S. Opens 2 New Planning Studios


IKEA U.S. is opening two new planning studios in Long Beach and Arcadia, CA, — the first IKEA planning studios on the West Coast. 

The new Los Angeles touchpoints will focus on providing inspiration and smart home solutions for city living as IKEA continues to transform to better meet the needs of California customers. At these stores, IKEA customers will be able to book appointments and get support from design specialists, and the IKEA team will make sure that everything a customer orders is transported to their home or to another point of delivery.   

On August 29th at 10 am PST, IKEA U.S. cut the ribbon for the grand opening of IKEA Long Beach in the Long Beach Towne Center. IKEA Arcadia opens its doors in the Westfield Santa Anita Shopping Mall on August 31st.  The two centrally located planning studios join four full-size IKEA stores in the greater Los Angeles market.

IKEA customers will be able to book appointments and get support from design specialists with planning and ordering home furnishing solutions that require a bit more help – such as kitchens, bedrooms, and bathrooms. While customers are unable to take home any products on their shopping day, the IKEA team will make sure that everything a customer orders is transported to their home or to another convenient point of delivery. The concept for these studios is based on extensive market research to understand consumers, what logistical barriers they face, how they like to shop, how they live at home, and more. 

“The new IKEA planning studios offer a unique experience with convenience in mind, and they are tailored for L.A. living. IKEA is consistently transforming to better meet the needs of our customers in California and beyond,” said Javier Quiñones, CEO & chief sustainability officer, IKEA U.S. “We don’t want to stop pushing the envelope when it comes to accessibility and affordability. IKEA is strongly committed to the communities in which we operate. We look forward to being a good partner to both Long Beach and Arcadia, and to welcoming its residents as part of the IKEA experience.” 

On each grand opening day, IKEA customers can enjoy games, workshops, giveaways, and the opportunity to become IKEA Family Members for more exclusive perks throughout the day. 

“The all-new Planning Studios in Arcadia and Long Beach will allow customers to meet with professional consultants who can help them optimize their living space,” said Gustavo Tinajero, Greater Los Angeles market area manager at IKEA U.S. “With full-service delivery, this is a new, intimate experience that’s uniquely IKEA and uniquely L.A. We are thrilled to be opening the first IKEA planning studios on the West Coast, continuing to create customer meeting points that are more accessible and convenient to the many people of the L.A. market while continuing to offer smart and affordable home solutions.” 

In addition to opening new store formats in city centers, IKEA has made significant investments to enhance its e-commerce experience and service offerings, including new lower priced shipping & delivery, Click & Collect, and TaskRabbit assembly services. 


Macy’s Appoints Emilie Arel to Board of Directors

Emilie headshot

Emilie Arel, president and chief executive officer of Casper Sleep, has been appointed to Macy’s board of directors, effective August 15, 2022. The board will now comprise 14 members and Arel will serve on the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee.

“I am honored to partner with a leading retailer like Macy’s, Inc. and look forward to leveraging my omnichannel retail experience to build on the momentum the company has achieved in recent years,” said Arel.

Arel oversees all facets of business at Casper Sleep, taking the lead in 2021. She manages the company’s commercial, brand, and wholesale strategy, as well as develops retail partnerships. 

[Read more: The Workshop at Macy’s Makes Its Return, Boasting an Enhanced Program]

With over 20 years of leadership experience across the retail and CPG industry, Arel brings with her a background working with companies like Target, Gap, FULLBEAUTY Brands, and Quidsi, an Amazon company.

“We are pleased to welcome Emilie to the Macy’s, Inc. board of directors,” said Jeff Gennette, chairman and chief executive officer of Macy’s, Inc. “She brings two decades of impressive, digital-first and brick-and-mortar retail experience to our board, including leading the digital transformation at FULLBEAUTY Brands and implementing Casper’s omnichannel strategy to drive consistency for consumers. Emilie’s experience putting customers at the center of the shopping experience will benefit our board and the broader organization as we continue to provide Macy’s, Inc. shoppers with a more personalized and immersive brand experience.”

“We are confident Emilie’s insights, retail merchandising expertise and proven ability to maximize the customer experience will be a valuable addition to our board as we engage both new and existing customers with our leading assortment of categories, products and brands via our omnichannel ecosystem,” said Paul Varga, Macy’s, Inc. lead independent director. “We look forward to her contributions as we continue to deliver against our long-term Polaris growth strategy, while positioning Macy’s, Inc. to capture additional consumer demand and market share.”