Build-A-Bear Accelerates Digital Transformation with Nutanix and Partners
Nutanix has announced that global retail and entertainment company Build-A-Bear Workshop has teamed up with Nutanix, Buzz3D, and TierPoint to develop the technology powering their new Bear Builder 3D Workshop, an interactive online shopping experience that virtually brings furry friends “to life” during the purchasing process.
As a part of the iconic brand’s effort to accelerate its digital transformation, Build-A-Bear began exploring opportunities to create an immersive and engaging online experience that builds on the familiar steps of its retail store experience yet creates something entirely new for the digital space. After the vision was established, Build-A-Bear engaged key technology partners to help bring its concept to reality by leveraging existing technology such as Desktop as a Service (DaaS) in creative new ways. With this first-of-its-kind experience, Build-A-Bear Workshop can now provide consumers a groundbreaking way to purchase a furry friend for life online that delivers real-world hugs to guests of all ages at buildabear.com.
“Our guests’ in-store experience is highly interactive and emotional as they get to create a custom furry friend and bring it to life including our signature Heart Ceremony. Our goal with this project is to translate this connectivity and emotion to the digital world,” said Mike Early, SVP and Chief Information Officer at Build-A-Bear. “The technology requirements to make this happen were not simple, as we needed enough processing power and speed to support this virtual experience on any device. This is where our partnership with Nutanix, Buzz3D and TierPoint came in, delivering a highly engaging online shopping experience in a private cloud environment that maximizes performance and is tailored to our requirements.”
With the retail landscape already shifting prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Build-A-Bear was focused on rethinking existing technology and formed a collaboration with UK company Buzz3D, a UK based, 3D online shopping solutions provider. The rapid acceleration of e-commerce and desire to translate the iconic Build-A-Bear experience for a digital audience resulted in a vision for an interactive shopping experience that would bring the joy and fun of visiting Build-A-Bear Workshop to the online space and appeal to an expanded audience of consumers who are shopping online in record numbers.
After that, the challenge was to deliver this experience, which would require large amounts of processing power, similar to what is seen in online gaming, to any customer device. To achieve this, Build-A-Bear and Buzz3D decided on Nutanix Frame, a Desktop as a Service solution that can stream high performance and graphics-intensive applications running on top of Nutanix private cloud infrastructure to a standard web browser on end users’ devices. Via Frame and an application embedded in Build-A-Bear’s website, consumers will be able to have a high-end digital experience on bulidabear.com whether on a PC or mobile device, without high bandwidth requirements.
To power the Bear Builder 3D Workshop digital experience as well as Nutanix Frame, the company wanted to marry the performance, cost advantages, and customisation of a private cloud environment, with the as-a-service model of public cloud. They identified data center and cloud services provider TierPoint, running Nutanix HCI software, to achieve this. They also plan to leverage public cloud services for additional capacity to respond to spikes in traffic.
“Retailers globally are looking at how to reinvent the online shopping experience to elevate it beyond a simple transaction that is mainly focused on cost and to bring similar value and engagement online as they do in-store. COVID-19 has only accelerated this trend,” said Rajiv Mirani, Chief Technology Officer at Nutanix.
“Just like Build-A-Bear reinvented the in-store shopping experience, I expect others to look at what the company is creating as a model of how to truly engage consumers anywhere and how to leverage technology like Nutanix to enable that.”