Build-A-Bear names new digital executives

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture
Build A Bear is naming two high-level digital executives.

Build-A-Bear Workshop is hiring its first-ever VP of e-commerce and promoting another executive to a senior digital technology role.

The specialty toy retailer is hiring Char Nicanor-Kimball in the newly created role of VP of e-commerce, and also promoting Art Huggard to the position of VP of digital technology. According to Build-A-Bear, these moves represent a continued commitment to its digital transformation and to the delivery of innovative new products and experiences. 

Nicanor-Kimball brings more than 20 years of e-commerce experience to Build-A-Bear Workshop. Most recently, Nicanor-Kimball was the senior director of e-commerce at Hannah Andersson, where she led the business team responsible for the operations, consumer journey and interaction of the site.

She also has extensive experience in e-commerce site operations, revenue and profit responsibility as well as merchandising management. Prior to Hannah Andersson, Nicanor-Kimball worked in expanding digital commerce at National Geographic, Stride Rite, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Nordstrom. At Build-A-Bear, Nicanor-Kimball will be responsible for leading the growth of the e-commerce business as the company continues to strategically expand its effort to drive omnichannel initiatives and digital transformation. 

Huggard joined Build-A-Bear Workshop in 2017 as director, e-commerce Development. He was instrumental in the company's implementation of the Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform and Deck Commerce order management system. His efforts have also included Build-A-Bear's consumer-facing digital initiatives, and the company's expanding usage of Salesforce technology.

In addition to the technology side of e-commerce, Huggard and his team are leading several of Build-A-Bear's new digital systems initiatives. Prior to joining Build-A-Bear, Huggard held the roles of director of e-commerce at Bass Pro Shops, as well as omnichannel program director at Hudson's Bay.

Build-A-Bear delivered e-commerce results in its most recent fiscal quarter that were very encouraging when compared to pre-COVID-19 online activity. The company’s consolidated e-commerce demand declined 27.8% in the second quarter of fiscal 2021 compared to the year-ago period, but increased 158.9% compared to the second quarter of 2019. The retailer noted that in 2020, its e-commerce was the primary channel for revenue, with its digital demand buoyed by temporary store closures and the online exclusive launches of some powerful licensed properties.

In other interesting e-commerce developments from the past year, the retailer partnered with the Shipt Driven same-day delivery platform to have the customized products available for delivery the same day they are built in time for the 2020 holiday season. After a customer builds their own personalized stuffed toy through Build-A-Bear’s online “Bear Builder” configurator and places the order, they can select same-day delivery. A Build-A-Bear employee will package the order at the customer’s local store.  

Leveraging Shipt Driven, a last-mile fulfillment service from the Target-owned Shipt same-day delivery platform, Build-A-Bear has a Shipt driver retrieve the order and deliver it during the timeframe the customer requested, with the option of delivery to their own home or gifted directly to a loved one.

Build-A-Bear has nearly 500 interactive brick-and-mortar retail locations. It also offers e-commerce/digital purchasing activities on