Banking Innovation of the Month: SBER ecosystem branch 28 July 2021

SBER has reimagined the role of the branch in their broader strategy.
The bank branch is dying a slow death, according to many industry observers. But that’s not the case in Russia, where SBER has redefined the role the branch will play in its ecosystem-focused strategy. SBER’s branch reimagination has been chosen as the Efma Innovation of the Month for June. 

Digital banking might be the future, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for physical spaces. It just takes a little imagination. At SBER, the “Branch as a gadget” concept means their customers now have many reasons for visiting the bank branch beyond mere financial transactions. Customers can receive packages, use wi-fi, have a cup of coffee, print documents, and attend community events.
Just like any good, multi-use gadget, their branches have been designed with the user in mind. Everything is clearly visible with no barriers. It is an intuitive, phygital space with products, services, and entertainment easily accessed. Employees are not just processing checks but instead are advising, helping customers navigate SBER’s vast ecosystem of services, and serving as brand ambassadors.
The renewed branches are the result of extensive consumer research. They analyzed behavioral research of more than 10 million customers. They surveyed 4,000 customers and employees and rolled out 21 pilot branches in the years preceding the official launch. This due diligence has resulted in a branch experience that is tailored to exactly what SBER’s customers were looking for.
Customer flow in in the branches has increased. More impressively, younger customers, who we all assume are only banking from their phone, have made up the vast majority of the new customers coming in to the branches. Has SBER unlocked a new way to engage with the next generation of customers through something other than a smartphone? The early signs are encouraging. And we at Efma will certainly be following this innovation closely in the months and years to come.
SBER’s “Branch as a gadget” will be automatically selected as a nominee for the Efma-Accenture Distribution & Marketing Innovation Awards 2021. Submit your innovations on the Efma Distribution & Marketing Innovation portal. Participation is free of charge and open to all banking institutions. Innovation of the Month is reserved for Efma members. Deadline to submit for August Innovation of the Month is 15 August.

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