A record 12,200 stores in the United States permanently closed in 2020, representing a 22% increase over closures in 2019. Retailers vacated about 159 million square feet of space in 2020 after struggling to keep businesses moving forward during the pandemic. Big-name shopping mall stalwarts like J.C. Penney, GameStop and Gap closed multiple locations. Well-known retailers like Pier 1 Imports went out of business altogether.
Build-A-Bear, another retail store traditionally found in malls, thrived in COVID-19’s first year. How? One of the key factors was a ship-from-store ecommerce strategy powered by a pair of technology providers. This strategy not only kept revenue flowing, but it also put associates back to work who had been sidelined by the pandemic.
Build-A-Bear operates 400 stores around the world, many of them located in shopping malls. The company has traditionally focused on in-store sales driven by mall foot traffic. But, in late 2019 and early 2020, it started exploring opportunities to offer an omnichannel experience and to place a greater emphasis on ecommerce.
Working with DeckCommerce, Build-A-Bear was planning to launch its new omnichannel capabilities in 2020’s third quarter. The pandemic created urgency, though, and Build-A-Bear was able to go live with DeckCommerce’s in-store fulfillment (ISF) module in just 4 weeks. DeckCommerce works with some of the world’s leading direct-to-consumer brands, powering their ecommerce and omnichannel strategies with advanced order management solutions. DeckCommerce’s experience and expertise allowed them to accelerate Build-A-Bear’s ship-from-store initiative in response to the pandemic.
Shipping from stores allowed Build-A-Bear to serve online customers, driving revenue that sustained the company through the COVID-19 downturn, and it also put the company’s retail associates back to work.
Build-A-Bear’s in-store associates used DeckCommerce’s ISF module to pick and pack boxes plus print packing slips. There was one significant inefficiency, though. After picking and packing, and after printing packing slips, associates would have to leave the order management system to open FedEx’s website in a new tab. There, the associates would enter shipping information and print a shipping label.
The process of printing one shipping label took Build-A-Bear team members 3 or 4 minutes to complete. And, because the workflow included a manual entry of shipping details, the process was prone to error.
In partnership with DeckCommerce, Build-A-Bear started exploring shipping solutions that could reduce the time spent printing labels. Build-A-Bear chose to use ShipEngine as its shipping API for printing FedEx labels. DeckCommerce followed by building a ShipEngine integration into Build-A-Bear’s existing order management system.
The Result: Now, after Build-A-Bear associates pack boxes and print packing slips, they can simply click a “print a label” button within the order management system’s user interface. With one click, Build-A-Bear employees generate the needed label quickly and without worrying about transferring information manually (and double checking for errors).
Connecting to ShipEngine reduced the amount of time Build-A-Bear employees spent printing shipping labels from 3 or 4 minutes to just seconds. After launching in summer 2021 with ShipEngine for FedEx labels in the U.S. and Royal Mail labels in the U.K., Build-A-Bear used the new integration to print 12,000 labels by the end of August. Around 2,400 orders shipped from Build-A-Bear stores each week thanks to DeckCommerce’s order management system with ShipEngine’s label printing capabilities, and Build-A-Bear experienced a 30% increase in ecommerce volume each week. The integration has worked so well that Build-A-Bear plans to ship 70% of this year’s holiday orders directly from their stores.
The order management system built by DeckCommerce with labels printed by ShipEngine has empowered Build-A-Bear to do more from its brick-and-mortar stores, sidestepping the pandemic and putting its team members back to work.
Build-A-Bear also discovered a series of benefits related to shipping from stores that it might not have identified without the pandemic. For example, shipping from stores reduces the need to house inventory in warehouses, and it also shortens the distance from seller to buyer. Build-A-Bear has saved thousands by transitioning to this ship-from-store model.
Are you exploring omnichannel options for your retail business? Get in touch with us to learn more about how ShipEngine can deliver the shipping solutions you need.