Daily Dose of iQ: A Look at RBC's 'Retail Store' concept

Jan 19, 2012 — Alen Puaca

It came to our attention that RBC has launched a new concept branch in Burlington, Ontario that features interactive "advice areas," touchscreen technology and increased open space for customers, as reported by TheFinancialBrand.com (Feb. 1, 2011).

"The 8,960 square foot location in Burlington uses a mix of progressive design, visual merchandising and digital interactivity including Microsoft Surface technology to create a unique, new retail experience for the venerated Canadian banking brand," wrote The Financial Brand.

"The objective was to change the RBC client experience from 'banking' to 'shopping' by transforming a traditional branch space into a retail environment."

This concept is completely in line with the principles identified in our "Next Generation of Retail Places" article series.

RBC says that they want to create more of a retail banking experience. Not only do they have potential for a retail experience, I think they have potential for great next-gen retail experience.

RBC branch Surface screens

The look of the place is very appealing to a broad demographic: it is wide, open, and comfy. For example, they played with scale (using crown moldings and baseboards) to make the space more intimate.

Based on the description, the apps seem to be optimized for shorter interaction, but for substantial info delivery. The use of Microsoft Surface technology encourages group interaction, as does the event area. On the other hand, single-person interaction is also available on separate touch screens.

All of the stations are in close proximity to staff, in case their assistance is needed. The ATMs are placed further into the store, so customers will be pulled into the comfortable and intriguing central area. It's evident that many details were considered here. It looks really good.

In terms of a user experience, banks tend to overwhelm customers with a large variety of solutions and options.

So, RBC offers five interactive applications to simplify the learning process:
1) The Big Picture: "Customers can explore ways RBC can help them meet their financial goals."
2) Drop a Coin: "Users slide coins across the screen to display the value of regular investing and see how their money can grow over time."
3) Meet our Experts: "Profiles of the local branch staff."
4) Instant Win: "Customers can drop a traditional direct-mail letter on the Surface screen to see if they have won a prize."
5) Kids Corner: "Offers a fun, interactive puzzle for children to explore while their parents do their banking."

RBC touchscreen stations

Simple visualization apps that allow customer to explore various investment scenarios by simply "dragging a virtual coin" are invaluable. They save everybody some initial discovery time, before the serious discussion takes place. 

Event areas with group lessons offers a chance for learning not only from bank staff but from the participants as well: other customers may have the same questions as you.

And keeping the kids entertained, while mom and dad do their banking, doesn't hurt either.

Take-home message:
As described in our Next-Gen Retail Places series of articles, offering a mix of entertainment and education, and a group or a solo experience, in a comfortable, well designed space will make customer happier, more engaged and more willing to do business with a retailer.

Store staff on the other end are much more relaxed and allowed to focus on establishing long lasting relationships with the customer, rather that quickly try to sell them a new product or service.

Topics: Retail Operations, Wireless Trends, Mobile Industry, Customer Experience, Retail Marketing

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