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Build-a-Bear Connects Interactive Experience With EPICOR Retail Systems

Infusion’s Build-a-Bear Workshop project has been getting significant amount of press, and for a good reason.

The install, now rolled-out across 6 stores [1] and poised for more, is a fun, multi-station interactive experience  that is fully-integrated into Build-a-Bear store design.  It incorporates multiple interactive stations, a variety of inputs (Kinect [2], touch, hybrid of both, as well as physical and proximity triggers) and transforms the in-store experience at Build-a-Bear Workshop Stores into part store, part interactive arcade.

The project even exhibits unprecedented level of user-centric design, with each station set-up at Build-a-Bear’s St.Louis corporate offices for thorough testing by Build-a-Bear’s ‘Cub Advisory Board’ – a team of kid-sized advisers representing the chain’s target clientele.

Finally and perhaps the most pervasive,  component of this project however is the seamless integration between the colorful user experience and Build-a-Bear’s retail management tools from EPICOR [3]. It is this integration between Infusion [4]‘s interactive User Experience (UX) and EPICOR’s Multi-Channel Transaction Adapter (MCTA) allowing connection to live POS, CRM and Inventory data that truly sets this project apart.

Working together, Infusion and EPICOR connected the interaction at each bear-building station with vast amount of data in retailer’s inventory, CRM, POS and store management systems. At each station, Infusion’s UI not only drives the experience, but communicates with EPICOR MCTA to retrieve information about available options (from animal styles, to pricing, to availability), showing only the relevant selection and items to the user. Data resulting from user input and selections is in turn passed onto EPICOR Retail software that then builds a real-time complex ‘order’ associated with the experience. The system simultaneously tracks multiple orders (not unlike individual tabs at a restaurant or bar) to facilitate group and multi-user experiences.

When the bears come to life at the end of the process, the POS system at the front of the store already has the full breakdown of the order, ready for check-out.

Such personalization and integration of a physical experience with an interactive journey is truly remarkable and offers a glimpse at what is expected from in-store digital initiatives in the future.

While for a long-time a niche will remain for rock-bottom-priced ‘poster-replacement’ digital signage systems, importance of data integration and capability to connect with various retail systems will continue to grow in retail.

Expect such inter-connectivity to become a significant criteria for solution selection process in the future, especially as the long-fabled concept of  ‘omnichannel retailing’ begins to come to fruition in 2013.