Build-A-Bear Workshop creates gamified metaverse experience

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Build-A-Bear experience in Roblox
A new Build-A-Bear experience is available on Roblox.

Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. is letting customers develop their own virtual worlds on a popular immersive gaming platform.

The specialty retailer is working with content creators Gamefam to launch a metaverse experience called “Build-A-Bear Tycoon” within the Roblox virtual gaming environment.

Build-A-Bear Tycoon is not the first step into gaming and virtual play for the Build-A-Bear brand, as the company previously offered an interactive game called “Bearville” (which was shut down in 2015), but does mark the retailer’s initial entry into the metaverse and Roblox.  

Beginning Wednesday, Dec. 14, customers will be able to join Build-A-Bear Tycoon on Roblox across Android, iOS, Mac, Windows PC, and Xbox One devices. In Build-A-Bear Tycoon, users can select, stuff, and personalize a virtual bear, build their own digital workshop, and explore an immersive metaverse environment.

As users progress through the game, they will be able to unlock digital collectable bears which they can then obtain in real-life versions. Build-A-Bear will offer special codes for in-experience redemption through its various channels. Build-A-Bear Tycoon participants can earn digital currency, called “Bear Bucks.” During the month of December, two special holiday bears will also be available to purchase from the Roblox catalog. 

"Fabulous experiences are at the heart of our brand with its rich history of creativity, empowerment, and personalization,” said Sharon Price John, Build-A-Bear Workshop president and CEO. “This anticipated entry into the metaverse with Build-A-Bear Tycoon on Roblox provides a fantastical venue for users and fans across ages to create their own Build-A-Bear virtual world including our beloved 'workshop' and other amazing – and sometimes unexpected - locations along with furry friend companions to join in the fun!"

"We are absolutely thrilled to be bringing the beloved Build-A-Bear brand to the Metaverse for the first time on Roblox," said Joe Ferencz, CEO and founder of Gamefam. "With our proven track record in creating experiences that draw in scaled audiences with high player ratings in the community, we're taking the 'build-your-own' retail concept onto a virtual platform in Build-A-Bear Tycoon. The game allows fans to extend the magical retail experience of Build-A-Bear home and into their imaginations where the possibilities are endless."

Build-A-Bear plans updates to the experience, with additional locations, unlocks, and interactions, for future release.

Build-A-Bear undergoes digital transformation

Build-A-Bear’s new metaverse offering is part of a broader digital transformation that includes revamps to its e-commerce, loyalty and marketing offerings. Following are highlights from each area of Build-A-Bear’s enterprise upgrade.

[Read more: Exclusive Q&A: Build-A-Bear adapts digital transformation to pandemic]

E-commerce

In recent months, Build-A-Bear has been making improvements to its site experience and infrastructure, while launching new features. The company is rolling out its new mobile-first (meaning the site is built for mobile devices and then modifies its engagement for desktop and laptop devices) e-commerce site design on Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

Supported by Deloitte Digital, upgrades include enhancements to storytelling, product showcasing, and event and promotion sharing. The new site also features faster and more seamless checkout and payment processes, and offers an improved Bear Builder 3D Workshop experience, including buy-online-pickup-in-store.

Marketing

Build-A-Bear is investing in marketing solutions including ABTasty, Cartful, Pimberly, Contentsquare, and Google Analytics 4 360, in a strategic move to expand its digital capabilities and customer personalization efforts. The company seeks to streamline the customer journey to ensure a seamless experience across channels.

Loyalty

Build-A-Bear recently launched the Salesforce Loyalty Cloud. The loyalty module provides tools that leverage information regarding purchases from the millions of members in its Bonus Club loyalty program. The retailer intends to grow customer lifetime value with the delivery of enhanced benefits and perks to shoppers.

St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. operates nearly 500 interactive brick-and-mortar retail locations and several online sites. In addition, its Build-A-Bear Entertainment subsidiary creates interactive content, while the company also offers products at wholesale and in non-plush consumer categories via licensing agreements with manufacturers.

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