Umpqua Bank branch named Retail Design Institute store of the year

Umpqua Bank branch named Retail Design Institute store of the year

Bank branches may be going the way of the dodo but one example of this increasingly rare bird drew admiring glances at the Retail Design Institute awards, where Umpqua scooped the store of the year gong for its flagship San Francisco outlet.

The win was a first for the banking industry in the award's 43-year history. Umpqua, a small West-coast community bank also scooped first place in the financial services category.

The San Francisco branch, opened last August and designed with Huen of Portland, won the award thanks to its "thoughtful use of physical design elements to enhance its innovative customer experience," says a statement.

At Umpqua 'mobile concierges' wander the branch helping customers with accounts and connecting them with experts. An interactive digital wall provides advice and information while a demo bar shows off products and services and a resource centre offers the use of iPads and "cell phone chat chairs".

A data research station gives people and businesses access to proprietary and public industry and consumer information. Exchange rooms can be used for free by locals to hold meetings and deliver presentations. Umpqua also uses the branch to hold 'Catalyst Series' events, where every quarter "innovators" hold talks for the public.

The branch even has its own bike for customer use and a phone which rings directly on the desk of Umpqua's CEO.

Lani Hayward, EVP, creative strategies, Umpqua Bank, says: "As consumer preferences and technologies change, so does the design of our stores. Our San Francisco location is the most recent example of how we're using design and technology in new ways to create a meaningful experience for our customers and communities, and it's an honour to receive this recognition."

Banks are cutting back expensive branch networks as customers increasingly turn to digital channels. Earlier this month Bank of America confirmed that its heavily investment in mobile banking is paying off and will see its network shrink.

However, many firms, such as Ireland's AIB, are trying to use the branches that they do have as flagships, to differentiate themselves from rivals and act as shop windows for their digital products.

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