In 1999, Build-A-Bear Workshop had 7 stores, a website and a dream of providing consumers worldwide with an entertaining and interactive experience that would change the way customized toys and gifts are made. Chief Executive Bear Maxine Clark contacted Voice-Express wishing to create a voice recorder accessory for her teddy bears. Today Build-A-Bear Workshop is a New York Stock exchange company with annual revenues over $300 million, and with over 170 stores in North America and another 12 international stores.
Voice-Express sold BABW over 1 million Build-A-SoundTM voice recorders and a growing number of pre-recorded sounds such as ELMO, RUDOLPH and others. Build-A-Sound has become a signature offer which, especially during peak holiday seasons, drives the sales of Plush as a personalized gift item.
Build a sound Voice-Express has provided BABW with an integrated solution for both their traditional retail outlets as well as their web store. Retail customers select a skin -“Choose Me”- then select a pre-recorded or patented Build-A-SoundTM recorder -“Hear Me”- and then proceed to the patented stuffing, stitching and fluffing station before further accessorizing their custom plush toy or gift. Web store guests are given the option of adding a Build-A-SoundTM to their plush, even before they have completed their transaction. Studies have shown that once a prospective customer records a message, they have a sense of ownership in the product and are more likely to complete their purchase.
Although BABW was offered various options for their website customers to record a personal message, they have found that customers feel most comfortable with using a standard telephone with a user-friendly and familiar voice menu which permits the customer to “record,” “review,” “re-record” and save their message. When the customer chooses to record a message,
a pop-up window is launched which provides a toll-free number and BABW’s order number to enter. Once the customer has recorded their message the pop-up screen is closed and the customer is right where they left off on the BABW site.
Voice-Express has built BABW their own voice server that is hosted at their Web Store headquarters where they also do order fulfillment. Programming the customer’s voice into the plush is just one of the customization processes BABW provides.
Build-A-Bear is leading the toy and gift industry in on-demand customized production and interactive retailing and Build-A-Bear understands the value of products that deliver a personalized voice.
Build-A-Sound is Build-A-Bear’s best selling sound even though at $8.00/unit it sells at a $2.00 premium over most of the pre-recorded sounds. Customers are willing to pay a premium for personalization. During gift-giving seasons such as Valentine’s Day, conversion rates for Plush purchased with a Build-A-Sound reach 35%.
According to Build-A-Bear Workshop Chief Executive Bear Maxine Clark, “Adding this feature is another way for us to make the guest experience on our website as personal and creative as the Workshop experience. We safely tuck the small recorder into the bear…a perfect way to say I love you or to record a unique message such as ‘Will you marry me?,’ ‘You got the job!,’ or ‘Congrats on your promotion,’ just to mention a few. We are very excited to launch this just before Valentine’s Day when so many people want to share a special message of love through a stuffed animal.