An Unpredictable Outcome

As more and more shopping experiences are happening online it is easy to devalue in importance how people shop in the physical world. Ignore that at your peril. We still live in a physical world and the lessons to be learned are myriad.



Retail banking, for example, has undergone a radical transformation over the past 10 years and we can expect much more change as technology and generational issues (read: aging) force some innovative retail thinking.

If you have been in retail for any amount of time you are probably familar with the name, Paco Underhill, and his company, Envirosell. For the past 15 years they have my single favorite source of insights into how and why people shop. I would imagine that they are rather chagrined (or flattered) to  see all these new, “Customer Experience Groups” springing up when Envirosell has been doing just that for so long.

In an article entitled, Generational Shopping, Envirosell has this to say about retail banking, “Some banks are experimenting with teller-less branches staffed by greeters whose job it is to train people to use the machines. This is cheaper than staffing branches with tellers, but it provides the human touch that older customers especially appreciate, as well as the assistance they need. In a similar way, the Minneapolis-based John Ryan Co., the largest retail-bank-marketing agency in the world, has developed interactive banking kiosks that link customers to financial specialists. This gives bank branches the ability to provide personalized service without having the personnel on-site.”

This is especially important because here in America, demographers tell us that 60 percent of discretionary income is in the hands of people 55 and over.

So why is the specific age group of the customer important?

Envirosell goes on tho tell us, “Personal service is a big draw for older consumers, so what happens to an industry that wants to reduce its face-to-face contact with customers? Banking and financial services are, to seniors, heading for a train wreck. Teller-based banking is expensive, and many banks are looking for ways to wean customers away. Envirosell’s global experience shows that only in New York City are the demographics of ATM users and teller customers the same. Everywhere else in the world, ATM users are younger than teller customers.”

Could this mean that the greeter in front of a wall of ATM screens is the new face of banking?


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