The role of the physical branch continues to be central in discussions around bank distribution.

It is clear that the strategy for large, non-niche banks is towards fewer branches, mainly due to falling footfall (largely driven by the shift in transactional banking by customers onto digital channels such as online and smart devices). However, there is still a significant demand for branches from customers, especially those looking to conduct complex transactions — or receive product advice about significant personal finance decisions.

In addition, banks still feel it’s important to have some form of high street presence – with many realising that without this, brand metrics can fall due to lack of ‘everyday visibility’ – meaning they might have to address this fall by making significant increases to advertising and promotional budgets.

Research from Deloitte (Deloitte’s “2019 Banking and Capital Markets Outlook” supports the idea that the physical branch still plays an important part in both attracting and retaining customers. Read the report.

Indeed some very large US based banks, such as Bank of America, are actually re-shaping their branch networks in new, innovative ways, as they seek to increase market share – closing some branches in more established and familiar locations, whilst opening branches in new territories where previously they’ve had no presence.

The challenge underlying this new thinking, seems to be how to make “the branch” an integral part of joined up, physical and digital customer journeys — research such as Deloitte’s suggests that by equipping the physical branch with expanded functionality, banks can increase the likelihood of both usage and effective engagement with their customers.

Going back to branches

Likelihood to increase branch use if the following features are offered

Source: Deloitte Center for Financial Services analysis, “Accelerating Digital transformation in banking: Findings from the global consumer surgery on digital banking,” Deloitte Insights, October 9, 2018.

This thinking is further supported by research into what’s becoming termed the ‘Smart Branch’, ie moving away from the traditional queue and counter design, towards enhancing the in-branch experience, streamlining and automating some tasks via assisted self-service whilst still offering effective one-to-one services. Last years report, “A bank branch for the digital age” by McKinsey, highlighted some of the key functionality a Smart Branch can employ, helping to transform the branch journey and ensure the physical presence of the bank connects with its online systems in a much more holistic way.

The Vpod Solution

Vpod’s own solution development programme, seeking to marry the physical and digital customer journeys into a powerful customer engagement platform, aligns with this the findings of this type of research.

The Vpod solution is a modular, omni-channel platform, the customer experience stays seamless however they choose to engage with their bank.


From streamlining routine tasks such as appointment booking to allowing them to speak to someone face-to-face, the VGreet is the perfect journey starting point for a Smart Branch.


A cloud-based communication platform that means branches and advisers can connect face-to-face irrespective of location.


From in-branch pods, larger location-based units to complete ‘branch-in-a-box’ solutions, a bank can have a presence wherever they feel there is customer demand.

Contact us to find out more about how Vpod can help to join up the physical and digital customer journey in banking.