Although not the traditional type of retail we report on at Retail Insider, the following is a revelation of Bank of Montreal‘s impressive new 21,000 square foot flagship at Toronto’s First Canadian Place.
According to the space’s design firm figure3, banks today are facing many of the same challenges as “traditional” retailers: fierce competition for share of mind and wallet – and, as e-commerce expands, more consumers turning to the convenience of online to shop and carry out transactions. figure3 designed a storefront which it says helps in “developing meaningful relationships between businesses and customers, the needs of both can be successfully merged”.
In working with BMO, figure3’s retail design team was charged with ‘seeing what others don’t,’ in order to make intelligent, evidence-based decisions for the redesign of the BMO flagship at First Canadian Place.
This meant developing a design strategy that changes the way BMO’s customers think, feel and behave in the new 21,000 square foot branch – a direct function of design research identifying a need for clarity in the banking experience.
“The new First Canadian Place branch is designed with the customer experience in mind, featuring a layout that removes physical barriers and ultimately fosters deeper, more valuable advice-based conversations,” said Tony Tintinalli, Regional Vice President, BMO Bank of Montreal.
The corner of King Street and Bay Street is one of downtown Toronto’s busiest and most crowded corners. The illuminated branding (see image at the top of this article), BMO blue racing stripe and digital signage grabs the attention of passersby while the floor-to-ceiling windows provide a clear view of what is happening inside.
Once inside, customers are struck by the openness of the bank – “we have pulled back the curtains,” says Marjorie Mackenzie, figure3’s VP of Retail. No longer is banking something that happens in back rooms – customers immediately feel empowered; like the integral part of the banking experience that they are.
By breaking up the long, transactional “us vs. them” counter and offering seating, traditional physical and emotional barriers are reduced and customers are invited to share in a more collaborative interaction with the staff.
The Business Banking area functions as a “bank-within-a-bank.” The intimate, seated interaction space allows people to comfortably engage in more comprehensive conversations, encouraging them to stay a little longer and spend time learning about products and services they care about.
The inclusion of new omni-channel elements (like the tablets pictured), helps make the transition from online to in-store more streamlined, offering customers a compatible banking experience with direct access to apps and online banking as well as in-store offerings.
The meeting pods are a conscious nod to the delicate balance of transparency and privacy in a banking experience. While the pods are situated within the open environment, the custom furniture offers acoustic and visual privacy in a comfortable, relaxed setting. Added mobile technology allows for movement between pods, streamlining information sharing.
Comfortable, free meeting areas (a.k.a. “hives”) with custom seating and storage created by figure3 principal Chris Wright and Senior Team Leader, Steve Tsai, enhance the ability to exchange information in a fluid, collaborative way.