Riepl’s Branch

Death to the branch and all who reside and rely upon them. Now clearly I am a digital by default kind of person but branch bashing is tiresome. Mainly as it is done by those that don’t have that infrastructure so they want to level the playing field. But I believe banks give up infrastructure at their peril. The branch as we know it today might be driven to the brink of extinction by the continued rise of mobile…

But, like Riepls law posits, some forms of media never die…

Reipl’s law actually states (translated)

‘further developed types of media never replace the existing modes of media and their usage patterns. Instead, a convergence takes place in their field, leading to a different way and field of use for these older forms’

Clearly branches will morph and flux due to the continued rise of digital.  Their size and function and form will of course change. In some cases of proposed media death you see a resurgence and a move to the premium. Vinyl being the classic example. TV never killed the radio. Tablets will never kill the TV. Wearables will not kill mobiles. Mobiles may never kill branches…they may seriously wound them though.

This reckon assumes that people love branches the same way the love vinyl…perhaps not but there are still a number of financial services that benefit from human face to face  service.

Yeah but Amazon killed Barnes & Noble, iTunes killed HMV,  Netflix killed Blockbuster etc. but they were all media and the distribution model is what changed, do services differ? Expedia killed the travel agent is the a fairly obvious parallel but travel agents still cling onto the high street. We have seen the rise of the premium and tailored players such as Kuoni. It seems people like getting help from smart people who know their stuff. Solutions tailored to their needs etc. Obvious really.

There are many opportunities to experiment with the branch at all ends of the spectrum. The premium end being the most obvious for an influx of some theatre and grandeur which could lead to a wonderful experience. Then mass market may be trickier to justify on cost alone but can the value of the branch be measured on cost alone? Many have tried before to improve the branch and they will try again. Good luck to them, ignore the naysayers, yes make digital amazing but don’t go throwing away those important pieces of infrastructures just yet.

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