Is the Bank Branch Going the Way of the Bookstore?

Is the Bank Branch Going the Way of the Bookstore?

Posted on November 21, 2016 0 Comments

As consumer behavior changes and foot traffic declines, banks must prioritize their online experience to stay competitive.

Changing consumer behavior has impacted brick and mortar operations of all types and sizes. The music and bookselling businesses are the two most obvious cases, with Amazon now the top seller of books in the US and Apple the top seller of music. According to Fortune, the number of department stores in the US has shrunk by 20 percent in the last three years alone with Macy’s, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Sears and more shedding hundreds of stores. That will continue in 2017, as Macy’s has already announced another 100 store closings.

There is no doubt about the subjugation of the in-store experience by the online experience—and there is no stopping the forward march of digital business. Researcher eMarketer is projecting that eCommerce sales will reach $500 billion by 2018, a 40 percent increase from 2014.

So, what does all this mean to the banking industry? It means a lot as the industry’s brick and mortar operations are paralleling those of other businesses. American Banker reported that JP Morgan Chase will shed 300 branches in its purchase of Washington Mutual, for example. And the average branch is experiencing a 25 percent decline in transactions according to Novantis, an ominous sign of things to come for brick and mortar portions of the industry.

American Banker summed up the situation clearly: “The bank is no longer a place you go; banking has become something you do.”

Retaining Customers Comes Down to the Online Experience

In this competitive arena where at times customers are incentivized with hundreds of dollars to open an account, retaining existing customers and growing the customer base has come down to one thing—the online customer experience. As a result, many institutions are evaluating their online presence. Florida-based BankUnited, for example, recently conducted a thorough evaluation of its online offerings and found a less than ideal situation. It determined that its online presence was limiting growth, lacking features to deliver an optimal, responsive customer experience throughout the customer journey—whether that journey involved the use of mobile to conduct a simple transaction or engage customers and prospects with new services offerings.

As Mary Harris, BankUnited’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations said, “I don’t know when you last visited a branch in person, but very few people are doing it now. Having a responsive and feature-rich website, especially in the financial services arena, is crucial. Times are changing and the way people do banking is changing too.”

During its evaluation, BankUnited also found that in addition to a less than stellar customer experience, it needed more sophisticated workflows in order to better market to customers and meet regulatory requirements. It also determined that the right web content management system could bring about numerous improvements in operational efficiencies.

In the end, BankUnited chose Progress Sitefinity and Sitefinity partner Bayshore Solutions to build the system. And it hasn’t looked back. Just of a few of the benefits its new system include:

  • Customers enjoy a premium experience, no matter the device
  • An automated workflow, where stakeholders can update and publish content in compliance with both bank and regulatory standards
  • The ability to add sophisticated features like secure sign-on pages for both consumer and commercial customers easily built with Kendo UI

As Harris summed up, “With Sitefinity CMS, the marketing, IT and web services teams have all streamlined their operations and become more efficient, which helps us work faster and in the end saves us money.”

You can find out more about Sitefinity here, and to learn more about BankUnited's story, you can read their whole story here.


Barrett Coakley

Barrett Coakley is the Senior Manager, Products Marketing for the Progress Sitefinity Content Management System (CMS) and the Sitefinity DEC, a digital marketing analytics platform.  Mr. Coakley has worked in various marketing positions for both startup and large technology organizations for over 20 years.


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