Bank adds electronic walls to new branch concept
In the USA, Umpqua Bank has developed a new branch 'store concept' that it hopes will change the way consumers interact with retail banks. The new 'neighbourhood stores' concept integrates bank branches with community elements - such as boutiques and cafes - to offer bank customers a place to browse local merchandise, drink coffee, and find out about community events.
The new neighbourhood stores, which will open first in Portland, Oregon, during 2006 were designed to be smaller, faster to build, and more flexible than traditional retail bank branches. The design reduces the bank's construction costs by approximately 50%, and Umpqua is confident that a new branch can be built in 45 days (whereas typical branches take an average of 120 days).
In-store features These so-called stores are intended to become neighbourhood hubs, where every inch is maximised to provide personalised, community-focused experiences. Key features will include in-depth neighbourhood information and resources, a retail space featuring merchandise from local businesses, and comfortable booths equipped with computers, an electronic "daily specials" menu (introducing users to neighbourhood events and resources, as well as bank products), and an electric votive candle. The stores will also feature other technologies (such as cash recyclers) to help reduce the workload of bank tellers (known as 'store associates' for the purposes of this project).
Touch the wall and see The neighbourhood stores will also feature a 'Discover Wall' - an interactive, multi-screen display that covers an entire wall of the store. Using in-store product information pieces that contain product-coded RFID (radio frequency identification) tags, the Discover Wall will respond to areas of customer interest with personalised information, and direct customers to more in-depth information and financial tools on nearby tablet PCs and displays.
For example, if a customer is interested in buying a home, the Discover Wall will present them with information about house prices in the local area, and details of the bank's mortgage products.
According to Ray Davis, president and CEO for Umpqua Bank, "The neighbourhood bank store concept represents a dramatic shift away from the traditional approach to building bank locations. These stores will integrate into existing neighbourhoods the way a coffee shop or cafe would, using smart design and technology to maximise space and reflect the character of each neighbourhood."