The Chase flagship retail store, located within its global headquarter campus in New York City, is open for business. While the opening is very exciting, it comes at a time when Chase is still closing branches, so what is the strategy here? Douglas Blakey writes

The new location at 390 Madison Avenue will turn heads. Chase says the outlet provides an integrated experience that combines digital concepts and technologies.

In particular, the Chase flagship branch has open lounges, private offices and flexible spaces that can accommodate a variety of community events for different audiences. Chase collaborated with Accenture to design the store, which was unveiled on 25 June.

“Our flagship branches are experiential locations. The brand truly comes to life for our customers,” says John McGinley, head of real estate at Chase.

“That can be through community events and conversations on financial health. And it is a place where we’ll show the latest technology, innovation and experiences before they’re introduced to the market.”

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Digital and physical

allen international, Accenture’s retail design and customer experience agency, worked alongside Chase and New York-based architect the Spector Group.

allen helped create a differentiated design that delivers a unique experience and environment that is digital at its core. This enables customers to interact seamlessly with the bank through a combination of digital and physical channels, according to their preference.

Paula O’Reilly, MD at Accenture’s banking practice, says: “Consumers want financial services institutions to provide a high-touch, human experiences coupled with the latest digital tools.

“JPMorgan Chase’s new branch is a leading industry example of a next-generation experience. It empowers front-line colleagues with technologies that enable a differentiated retail experience.”

allen international was acquired by Accenture in 2016. It designs physical retail space to support multichannel customer interactions and optimise retail locations – in particular those that blend physical and digital capabilities to deliver transformational customer experiences.

The company has helped many of the world’s leading banks, telcos and retailers across 57 countries to create engaging physical location networks, ranging from 10 to more than 10,000 stores.

Branch strategy

Of the major US retail banks, Chase has been the most enthusiastic advocate of the branch channel since the crisis. That is certainly the case in terms of the size of its network.

In 2008, as the banking crisis peaked, Chase operated 3,195 units. The acquisition of the failed Washington Mutual added a further 2,213 units, with Chase ending 2010 with just over 5,250 units.

It then bucked the trend towards shrinking branch numbers by adding to its branch channel. The Chase branch estate peaked at 5,697 outlets in 2013. It ended 2018 with 5,146 branches in the US, down a net 142 outlets from 5,288 at the end of 2017.

While Chase’s overall branch network is shrinking slowly, it is also opening branches. Last year, it revealed plans to open up to 400 new branches in 20 key markets.

Since then, Chase’s total network has inched down, despite a number of openings. It ends the second quarter of 2019 with 4,970 branches, down by a net 121 outlets compared with a year ago.