TECHNOLOGY

Build-A-Bear Workshop ups its online strategy

BY Marianne Wilson

Build-A-Bear Workshop wants customers to have just as much fun online as they do in its stores.

In partnership with Lyons Consulting Group (part of Capgemini Group), Build-A-Bear has re-imagined its total digital experience, launching new web sites for the U.S. and U.K. markets. The sites, which are built on the Salesforce Commerce Cloud, feature an immersive brand experience designed to reflect Build-A-Bear’s iconic store experience.

The centerpiece of the new site is “the bear builder,” a fully integrated, interactive application that guides visitors through the process of creating a customized furry friend. Similar to the in-store experience, the process concludes with a “heart ceremony,” where the customer not only select a heart for their stuffed animal, but are also prompted through sound and animation to make a wish.

Another highlight is the seamless integration of the “play” site, which includes videos, interactive games, and activities. Further integration with the store is evident throughout the site, with features such as a feature that allow customers to book a party at one of Build-A-Bear’s stores.

“We feel like we picked a great partner to support our digital initiatives,” said Mike Early, senior managing director of information Technology, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. “The Lyons team has demonstrated a very high level of commitment, expertise, and creativity. We are incredibly happy with the results and look forward to continuing to work with them as we further enhance our new platform.”

The project also included several technology integrations including Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Deck Commerce, CyberSource, Avalara, and Channel Advisor.

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TECHNOLOGY

Gifting goes digital—and customizable—at two Gap brands

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Athleta and Banana Republic are giving holiday shoppers a more thoughtful alternative to gift cards.

By joining forces with Loop Commerce, both Athleta and Banana Republic will offer the GiftNow card this holiday season. The card, an extension of Loop Commerce’s online GiftNow service, enables consumers to purchase and instantly deliver any product online. In a new twist, the GiftNow card also gives the recipient the option to accept, customize or exchange the merchandise before it ships.

Here’s how it works: A customer selects a gift for someone in-store, and with an associate’s help, that gift is virtually loaded to a GiftNow Card.

The process is similar online. Customers find an item they want to gift, and click on the “GiftNow” button on the product page to buy and checkout as a gift. They provide the recipient’s name and email, a special message, and select what day the gift should arrive. Customers can send the gift immediately, or wait to deliver it on a dedicated date.

Recipients receive an email with the gift details and a URL to view their gift. Here, they can accept it, and the item will be delivered immediately.

They also have the option to customize the gift by “selecting their preferred color, size and shipping address — or exchange it for something else entirely before the gift is sent,” according to Gap’s blog, aDdressed.

Athleta will be the first retailer to offer the GiftNow experience in-store. Ten stores in Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, California, Illinois, Texas, New York and Wisconsin will feature the GiftNow Card option starting the week of November 13. Both Athleta and Banana Republic will also offer the service on their websites, Gap said in the blog.

“We’re excited to add the GiftNow service to Athleta.com and BananaRepublic.com, and to be the first brand to work with Loop Commerce on a connected experience by also offering the GiftNow Card in select Athleta stores,” said Noam Paransky, senior VP digital at Gap Inc. “We believe this new personalized gifting service will provide our customers an easy way to do their holiday shopping both online and in-store.”

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Zappos’ new retail hub celebrates sneakers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Zappos is creating a new shopping experience that celebrates classic footwear.

The online footwear retailer introduced “The_Ones,” a new online destination that celebrates classic shoe styles. It will kick off with a focus on “classic” sneakers. In addition to featuring a new online hub called FindTheOnes.com, the concept also has a shoppable Instagram feed, and will feature limited-time “pop-ins” in premium boutiques.

Shoppers can log in online to browse a curated assortment of classics and instant classics — what Zappos defines as new releases that instantly cement themselves as classics — from iconic brands including Vans, Puma, Adidas and Converse. The site also features a network of editorial content, including exclusive interviews with sneaker icons like Stan Smith, original videos and illustrations, and stories about the artists, musicians, and makers who live their lives in these shoes.

Zappos also features a mix of original photos, videos, and GIFs can on Instagram. The social network also features an integrated shopping experience provided by Curate.

The retailer is also giving shoppers the chance to engage with The_Ones merchandise in person through “pop-in” store experiences. Zappos is partnering with select boutiques to bring the experience to life. The first will be at Beyond, a pop-up by Tarek Hassan and Bird Brooklyn, which will feature a curated assortment of classic sneakers and Zappos’ customer service.

The_Ones experience will also show up outside a handful of sneaker drops in New York City. Here, Zappos plans to reward those waiting in line with surprises and gear giveaways.

Looking ahead, Zappos plans to use The_Ones to launch upcoming collaborations and exclusives, the company said.

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