Despite a rapid shift to using smart technologies, a recent focus of retailers is what many may associate with the past: bricks and mortar stores.

Consumers are increasingly utilising multiple channels to interact with their favourite retailers, and while online (particularly mobile) shopping is on the rise, it's still far from our favourite way to shop.

Leading companies still realise the importance of physical stores as a way to enhance the omnichannel experience.

As JDA Software CEO Baljit Dail said at last year’s NRF Retail’s BIG Show, “Brick is the new black.”

A recent study by Commonwealth Bank found that around one-in-five online-only retailers, including Amazon, are planning to establish a physical presence in the coming year to form relationships with clients. This is in response to consumer demand for multiple touch points.

But, what has all this got to do with banking?

Well, retail banking isn't that dissimilar to what would be considered traditional retail: department stores, clothing chains, etc. Site selection and marketing is still a question of supply (financial products/services) and demand (customers).

Of course, the big difference is that when the traditional bank was established, the habits and desires of customers would have been vastly different to what they are now.

As banks fiercely contend for their market share, a transformation is taking place in the design of the retail banking network. Bain & Company research shows that routine interactions in branches are on the decline, but sales and service trends are mixed, depending on the attributes of specific network catchments.

The customer has more choice than ever in relation to how they interact with their bank, and the provider must understand market trends to meet demand. These trends are intrinsically location based (branches, assets, customers, businesses, transactions, demographics), and making sense of them is where the battle lines will be drawn.

On progress in retail, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos mused, “If you're competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.”

The bank who best understands their customers will see less churn, as they will be able to consistently provide personalised products and services via the most appropriate channels.

To see what I mean, take a look at the story map Banking on location to understand your network. This interactive resource will show you how location can help you better understand your customers, provide relevant services to meet their needs, and market to them more effectively.

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