It’s not a branch, it’s a digital banking showroom dripping with technology — strategically situated in the middle of a consumer shopping mecca for maximum exposure and awareness.
The Lab is a radical new concept store concept from Allied Irish Bank. Believed to be the first of its kind in Ireland, The Lab (an acroynm for “Learn About Banking”) will put all of AIB’s banking technologies together in a physical, brick-and-mortar showcase.
The Lab is situated in Dundrum Town Centre, the busiest retail location in Ireland, with over 19 million visitors annually. And this high-visibility area is central to AIB’s strategy. They aren’t necessarily building a branch so much as a showroom.
The branch, designed by the architectural wizards at allen international, sets out to create a learning and research environment focused on exposing Irish consumers to the full range and capabilities of AIB’s digital, online and mobile banking solutions.
“Our mobile and online banking offerings are market-leading, yet almost half our customers have yet to embrace digital banking,” said AIB’s director of personal, business, and corporate banking, Bernard Byrne. “AIB’s investment in digital technology is a cornerstone in the bank’s strategy to reduce cost.”
“With Dundrum Town Centre’s annual footfall with millions of people, The Lab will give a huge consumer base an insight into the benefits of marrying technology with banking,” Byrne added.
Inasmuch, the branch boasts digital self-service technology, remote advisor accessibility, mobile device demos and a digital “avatar” that can help customers navigate the experience. Visitors to the branch will also enjoy free use of iPads, iMacs and WiFi.
The space is divided into five distinct retail zones:
The Quick Banking Zone – This is a stepped arrangement of multi-functional, cash-capable ATMs. The area includes card kiosks, a phone booth for private conversations, and a social media wall.
The Mobile Banking Zone – This zone features a modern mobile banking table with state-of-the-art interactive screens and a display of AIB’s mobile banking devices/services. A private internet banking booth allows customers to check their accounts, or learn more about internet/mobile banking from an AIB representative.
The Product Zone – A relaxed and contemporary area to showcase AIB’s products, services and new technological innovations. The Product Zone highlights the brand’s associations and partnerships with other world leading and technologically advanced brands. Beside the iconic interactive digital product table, this area also features the Emerging Technology Zone, with changing exhibitions and demos.
The Lounge & Learning Zone – A hospitable lounge to relax and browse, with AIB experts available to meet in the comfort of private booths. This is intended to be a space for visitors to learn, participate and be entertained by various events. This area features a large format digital learning wall, an interactive source where customers can learn about the brand, the store and all its facilities. The zone also incorporates a children’s play area.
The Business Banking Zone – Located on the upper floor, this is a special zone designated exclusively for AIB business customers. Customers can use this space for their own networking and business meetings. Meeting rooms provide access to remote specialists via video conferencing. A relaxed lounge offers complimentary use of iPads.
“Customers now choose how they wish to interact with AIB in the way that suits them best,” said a spokesperson with allen international.
AIB has an entire section of its website dedicated to The Lab concept. AIB has even created a Facebook page and Twitter account for The Lab, separate from its other social media accounts. They already have 3,896 ‘Likes’ and an astounding 3,088 Facebook users talking about them — nearly a 1:1 ratio. They also have a respectable 1,376 followers on their Twitter-verified account.
AIB says its experimental lab expresses the bank’s brand values: dependable, engaging and pioneering.
AIB says it has plans to use The Lab to unveil future personal finance innovations.