TALKING SHOP

Talking Shop: The design secrets behind Metro Bank’s store

By Oliver Smith 6 March 2017
Summary

Get the inside story.

Not every shop is the same. Some are breaking with tradition, blurring the lines between the physical and digital, changing how we shop.

From Bang & Olufsen to Dyson and Apple, our Monday fortnightly series Talking Shop explores how these smart stores are revolutionising retail, by meeting the people who designed them.

The high street will never be the same.

Today we’re talking to Shirley Hill, the CEO and founder of InterArch, who created the original concept for one of the most innovative new shop designs in the world of retail: Metro Bank’s store in Wimbledon.


Metro Bank has been doing things differently ever since it became the UK’s first new bank in 150 years back in 2010.

Today while other banks are abandoning the high street, Metro Bank is opening new branches and promises to continue investing in its high street presence.

Shirley Hill, the wife of Metro Bank founder Vernon, has helped design these 48 branches that have spread across the UK, crafting their customer-centric design approach.

A busy woman, with powerful design ideas, The Memo asked Hill how she’s transforming the face of retail with Metro Bank’s store.

How did you want people to feel when walking into the Metro Bank store in Wimbledon?

Even before you walk into the Wimbledon store, the double-front, ceiling to floor windows enable both customers and passers-by to see the bright and airy banking-hall and all the welcoming colleagues.

From first glance, you know that there’s something very different about Metro Bank.

There are no cubicles or walled meeting rooms in store, rather we use glass, textiles and thoughtfully-positioned furniture to provide privacy without impacting on the layout.

The entire Metro Bank model is built around providing a superior customer experience, so from the very first encounter people have with the bank, we ensure that they feel welcomed and are made comfortable.

Greeters at the entrance welcome each and every customer and direct them to either the teller line or the couches to meet with representatives. Colleagues at the teller line don’t have a thick screen between them and the customers, but is an open counter, so customers and cashiers can speak normally across is.

Even the marble floor tiles are arranged so that the black tiles on the white create a line for customers, when waiting to speak with a cashier.

And what were the broad goals behind the design of this store?

It’s important that all the Metro Bank stores display our brand, create a real talking point in communities and provide a welcoming environment for customers.

We also make sure everyone is welcomed into Metro Bank stores, that means children and pets too, with lollipops and dog treats available to all.

This is the banking revolution after all.

What technologies make the Metro Bank store unlike any other in the world?

Metro Bank uses technology not as a gimmick, but as a way to make its customers’ lives simpler.

With its state-of-the-art in-store technology, anyone can pop in at a drop of a hat, without an appointment, and ‘walk out working’ 20 minutes later, with a fully-functioning account, card in-hand and internet and app all set-up.

Each and every store has the ability to open up accounts for customers immediately all on a tablet, print debit and credit cards right there and then and set PIN codes – all in a matter of minutes and making customers’ store experience world class.

What challenges did you face designing this store?

Wimbledon was an interesting design challenge.

Given its prominent location, we designed our new store to highlight our brand, welcome customers and invigorate the high street.

Building above and opposite the main Wimbledon station certainly challenged our team, but the store’s success is indisputable.  

Which elements of this design have become synonymous with modern shop design?

How often do you walk into your local bank branch and it’s dark and dingy, there’s outdated posters on the wall, maroon carpet and wallpaper from the last century… that’s if the branch is even open in the first place!

Banks’ approach towards their branches is a far cry from retailers.  

Having a retailer’s mind-set when it comes to designing stores is absolutely critical and whatever the finished product I’d like to see more thought given to the full customer experience, rather than stores used to just push products.

Come back Monday week for our next #TalkingShop interview, and get in touch if you know a store or designer who’s also revolutionising retail.

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