Project Profile: Build-A-Bear’s Interactive-heavy Concept Stores

October 4, 2012 by Dave Haynes

Nanonation continues to have a big part in the Build-A-Bear Workshop retail chain, which has just opened the first of several nerw concept stores in the US.

The new Build-A-Bear store design reflects two years of work updating the interactive, digital and overall customer experience in stores. For the unfamiliar, the store is about making personalized teddy bears.

“Build-A-Bear Workshop invented experiential mall-based retailing 15 years ago and has been the leader in providing interactive experiences for kids of all ages,” says Maxine Clark, Build-A-Bear Workshop founder and chief executive. “Since our inception, over 100 million stuffed animals have been made in our stores. With this new store design, we have combined the love of a teddy bear with the best of digital technology. We look forward to continuing our leadership in the interactive retail space.”

Says the release:

While the Build-A-Bear Workshop signature process remains at its core, guests who visit the new store will see noticeable changes to the company’s trademarked stuffed animal-making experience including:

An interactive storefront which goes beyond the typical digital signage (ed: this Nano) found in other retail locations and will change with the seasons, holidays, or other special events. Using Microsoft’s Kinect technology and interactive touch elements, Guests can engage and play with the signage at the front of the store.

The Choose Me station (Nano) where Guests are introduced to all the furry characters and then select one, which soon becomes a new friend. The stuffed animals are now at kid height so young Guests can touch, play, and form a connection with these furry friends. There is a large selection of stuffed animals to choose from including teddy bears, bunnies, dogs, kittens, and more.

The Love Me station allows Guests to customize their furry friends with special personality attributes displayed as emoticons on an interactive table. Using Samsung’s SUR40 with Microsoft® PixelSense™ technology, Guests can add unique traits – like cuddly, brave, silly and smart – to their red satin hearts, which are inserted inside their furry friends during the Stuff Me process.

The award-winning Hear Me station (Nano), an interactive touch screen supplied by Canvys, features an assortment of high quality sounds that can be inserted into the stuffed animals for further customization and personalization. Guests can select and load popular hits from current music or sounds onto a chip plus record their own voice to a Build-A-Sound to further personalize their new friend.

The Stuff Me station, where Guests can now add SCENTiments to make their new furry friend smell yummy. An assortment of scents is available including: bubble gum, strawberry, cotton candy, and chocolate chip. The scents that are offered will change by season and holiday.

After the Stuff Me station, the last seam of stuffed animals is neatly pulled shut, nearly completing each new best friend. Before stitching the furry friend, a Bear Builder associate inserts a barcode, allowing it to be reunited with its owner if ever lost and returned to Build-A-Bear Workshop. Thousands of furry friends have been reunited through this exclusive Find-A-Bear® ID program. The barcode also generates a unique code on the birth certificate so Guests can bring their new friend to life online and play for free at™ to continue their friendship adventure when they get home.

The Fluff Me station, allows Guests to interact with their new furry friends at a “water rippling and splashing” digital bath tub that is enabled by Samsung’s SUR40 with Microsoft® PixelSense™ technology. The tub magically recognizes the items as they are placed on it and reacts with sensory effects such as virtual bubbles that appear when play soap is placed on the “water surface.”

The Dress Me station is now organized by theme, such as dress up and super heroes, so coordinating items are grouped and easily accessible. This station is updated with Match Me technology that allows Guests to see what is new in the clothing area and to receive suggestions on related items that can be added to outfits as Guests personalize their animals.

The process culminates at the Name Me station, where Guests use a viewfinder or “bear-o-scope” that reveals the special attributes and personality that have been added to the animal throughout the process. At Name Me, Guests create a personalized one-of-a-kind birth certificate that now includes a photo of their new furry friend.

The first store is in the St. Louis area and another re-opens tomorrow in northern California.

Bryan Fairfield, Nano’s president and CEO, says his company is heavily involved in Build-A-Bear’s store of the future, along with severakl other companies.

“Our role in this is the digital signage (storefront, ChooseMe, Take Me Home) and the HearMe Stations (2 per store), so we have five units in each. Infusion does the really cool FluffMe Station, which is the interactive bath,” says Fairfield.

The HearMe Station, Fairfield explains, is a system that allows Build-A-Bear to have “a huge database of sounds programmed onto blank chips through the kiosk. It give them a much higher attach rate since there are so many more sounds from which the kids can choose.”

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