RBC Debuts New Retail Store Concept

“We see the branch as a critical part of our distribution network.”
— Neil McLaughlin, RBC
VP of Channel Strategy

RBC Bank is taking a fresh look at the bank branch experience with its new “Retail Store” concept, featuring interactive advice areas, touchscreen technology and more open space for customers. RBC has debuted the new branch prototype concept with locations in Ontario and Halifax, and another one coming in Toronto soon.

The 8,960 square foot location in Burlington uses a mix of progressive design, visual merchandising and digital interactivity including Microsoft Surface technology to create a unique, new retail experience for the venerated Canadian banking brand.

Subscribe TodayThe objective was to change the RBC client experience from “banking” to “shopping” by transforming a traditional branch space into a retail environment.

The concept is described as a hybrid of best-in-class retail shopping and financial services, designed to “support customers’ life events.” Customers are able to select from a range of self-, assisted- and full-service options.

“We’re offering an approachable environment where clients can interact with our employees and our technology on their terms,” said Neil McLaughlin, RBC’s VP of channel strategy. “At the end of the day, our goal is to ensure our clients are equipped to make informed decisions to help meet their financial goals.”

RBC says it is the first Canadian financial institution to implement Microsoft Surface technology in its branches. Microsoft Surface units are a key part of the “Discovery Zone” in RBC’s store concept, with applications including:

  • The Big Picture – Customers can explore ways RBC can help them meet their financial goals
  • Drop a Coin – Users slide coins across the screen to display the value of regular investing and see how their money can grow over time
  • Meet our Experts – Profiles of the local branch staff.
  • Instant Win – Customers can drop a traditional direct-mail letter on the Surface screen to see if they have won a prize
  • Kids Corner – Offers a fun, interactive puzzle for children to explore while their parents do their banking

The store’s exterior uses of scale, texture, and glazing to project a progressive, customer-friendly retail experience. Architects also incorporated traditional elements to convey RBC’s Canadian heritage and position the bank as a trusted authority.

To create an inviting atmosphere, RBC chose warm tones, contrasting wood details, soft/curved features on fixtures, and oversized crown moldings and baseboards. The store’s floor is finished in the shape of a ribbon that winds through every zone in the space.

ATMs have been placed deeper into the retail area to expose self-serve clients to the new environment and exciting interactive zones. Private meeting rooms and semi-private meeting spaces have been made more open and accessible, allowing for impromptu meetings.

Driving traffic to branches can be a challenge. For RBC, part of the solution called for a more transparent and inviting store exterior, inviting the public to come in and explore the interactive and modern-looking space.

“We see the branch as a critical part of our distribution network,” RBC’s McLaughlin told Bank Systems & Technology.

“We are evolving our branch network into a best-in-class retail store and advice centre designed to meet our clients’ needs by creating a personalized banking experience that is informative, friendly and accessible,” McLaughlin said.

RBC has the largest branch and ATM network in Canada, with over 1,200 branches, 17 per cent more than the next financial institution, and 4,227 ATMs across the country.

An event area features large screens that continually circulate mini-seminars and marketing initiatives to the entire branch. This area is also used by RBC’s mobile sales team to engage clientele through seminars and events that are open to large groups at extended hours.

RBC partnered with Microsoft to provide customers an interactive banking experience through the use of its Surface 2.0 technology.

Visual merchandising on the retail floor exposes customers to RBC’s offerings. Traditional displays and digital screens are strategically placed near service areas to increase visibility.

Customers are greeted by the Discovery Bar featuring a welcome screen, an online banking “touchdown space,” and interactive Microsoft Surface technology.

In a brightly lit entrance, automatic sliding doors open to a modern and interactive interior.

A short video on the development of RBC’s new store concept.

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This article was originally published on February 1, 2011. All content © 2018 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.


  1. Tim McAlpine says:

    Excellent overview. It will be interesting to see how fast this will roll out across the country and what form it will take in smaller locations. In my little city there are a couple of RBC branches that are a fraction of the size of the above flagship “store.”

  2. Where in Burlington is this branch? I will be in metro TO this week and want to check it out!

  3. RBC Burlington
    3030 Mainway (at Guelph Line)
    Burlington, Ontario
    Canada L7M 1A3

  4. I would love to see this concept at work in our RBC branches here in the Bahamas! Super exciting, love the kids’ corner idea especially.

  5. Gorgeous, clean design and very functional use of digital. Will be interested when the 10th branch is remodeled. Which digital was useful and worth keeping? Which was “too much”? Time will tell. Great article!

  6. Good point Jon. It’s always interesting to see what innovations survive the initial prototype. It’s very seldom that 100% works and/or is carried forward.

  7. I don’t particularly like the design. It’s too impersonal. It’s not very inviting to me, it’s too busy. Also, I want to feel like I’m walking into a trusted company’s building, not a Science World, if that makes any sense.

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