Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Better Sales, by Design

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Better Sales, by Design

Article excerpt

Better sales, by design

How important is a branch's visual appearance to the success of that office? Plenty important, according to the new Branch Design and Merchandising Guide, recently released by ABA.

"Banking in the 1990s and beyond will require a leveraging of the branch network and a realization that the branch is still the most tangible and powerful means by which banks can communicate with their customers," says the guide. "A key element of this repositioning is the fact that most branches in existence today were designed with a single activity in mind--transactions. The branch of today must be a selling environment much (but not exactly) like a retail store." (Emphasis added.)

The guide, prepared by Retail Planning Associates Inc., Columbus, Ohio, traces the branch's shift from transaction processing to selling. In order to support a complete sales environment, banks must refocus branch design on merchandising and space planning. Retail techniques. Merchandising of products and services is "the single most important lesson bankers are learning from their retail cousins," according to the guide. The guide points out that many customers don't know the full range of products a branch offers. The traditional branch setup, designed to handle transaction business, does nothing to inform customers further or guide them to employees who can tell them about the branch's offerings.

Among the merchandising techniques the bank can consider:

. Directional and departmental sign-age, which builds immediate awareness of products and services offered.

. Point-of-sale graphics, such as counter cards, which build awareness of important categories and communicates specific information about products in those categories.

. Exterior graphics--such as posters, permanent signs, and consistent architectural elements--which alert consumers to the branch location.

. Sales aids--paper or electronic selling tools--to assist in consultative selling. …

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