Why bricks-and-mortar stores are making a comeback

Greenstone Financial Services has opened its first-ever physical store as part of a move aimed at giving customers choice. Its CCO explains why

Opening a bricks-and-mortar store in an increasingly digitally-driven consumer culture seems counter-intuitive. Yet Greenstone Financial Services are banking on its new store giving customers what they want.

One of Greenstone’s insurance brands, Australian Seniors Insurance Agency (ASIA), is bucking the digital-first trend pervading the financial services industry, and recently opened its first bricks-and-mortar store in the Sydney suburb of Castle Hill. The plan is to open more over the next 12-18 months, and possibly take the idea national.

ASIA expects the new store to break down barriers that a digital-first approach puts between brands and their customers, and allow them to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Greenstone Financial Services chief customer officer, Sarah Richards, told CMO comprehensive research into segment needs went into the decision, and the business sees it as an important move as the over 60s market is set to boom.

“Initially the idea to open a physical store came from anecdotal feedback from customers and our team that people would like somewhere to visit. This started a chain reaction really,” Richards told CMO.

“So we took the feedback and quantified it with some consumer testing. We asked our target audience whether they would value being able to come into a bricks-and-mortar store. The results demonstrated 40 per cent of the people we spoke to would value being able to visit a store, and 80 per cent  would go there with the intent of getting a quote or purchasing insurance. This strong feedback was the catalyst to open the first store.”

Like many businesses now, the insurance industry is realising you have to provide consumers with a choice in how to interact with you, rather than just trying to funnel them into digital-only.

“It’s critical you provide the consumer with choice in how they want to interact with you, and there is a huge focus on trust and reliability. You can build that effectively in a face-to-face transaction, so the store aligns with customer preference and choice,” she said.

“We want to be able to reach as many of our customers as possible. Seniors is a growing segment, and within 10 years there will be 30 per cent more people over the age of 60. Currently there are five million people over the age of 60 in Australia, and they will continue to have their own preferences for how they do business.

“The store complements the channels we already provide. We have a single view of the customer and we know customers are using all channels.”

The business uses its own CRM bespoke systems to measure engagement, and to ensure compliance.

“Our platform allows us to see which channels customers are reaching out in, and their transaction history. It’s a critical piece of our business model, and it’s important to understand where our marketing investment is going, who it is reaching and how, because people don’t interact with us via a single method anymore,” Richards explains.

As for the store, it only opened six weeks ago, and the pilot period will be telling. “But within that pilot period we are definitely planning on opening more than one store over the next 12-18 months. If we have the right trigger points we would plan to take it national," Richards said. 

“It’s early days of course, but so far we are getting great feedback and appreciation from customers. Not everyone who walks into the store is looking for a product we offer at the moment, but the insight we gain is incredibly valuable.

“The store is designed to complement the marketing investment and extend reach points to our customers. Anything to allow the customer to transact with us.

“We help customers manage their own products via online portals in store as well, and we have a strong community focus."

For Richards, opening the store is critical in giving consumers choice.

"If you can cater to all preferred methods of interaction, then you are not limiting yourself. AI and chatbots are also in our thought process for the future," she added. "Technology is advancing all the time and we are watching it closely. You do have to consider the target market around those methods, and it’s on the agenda.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

 

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments
cmo-xs-promo

Latest Videos

More Videos

Thanks for your feedback, Rabi. While we introduced the ROO concept using a marketing example, I also believe that it is pertinent to man...

Iggy Pintado

Introducing Return on Outcome (ROO) - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

Thanks for your insight, Philip. Return On Outcome (ROO) requires balanced thinking with the focus on outcomes as opposed to returns.

Iggy Pintado

Introducing Return on Outcome (ROO) - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

Beautiful article.

Hodlbaba

15 brands jumping into NFTs

Read more

"Blue" is really gorgeous and perfectly imitates a human customer support operator. Personally, I won't order a chatbot development for m...

Nate Ginsburg

Why the newest member of BT’s contact centre is a chatbot

Read more

As today’s market changes rapidly, the tools we use change, and it is important to adapt to those changes to continue to succeed in busin...

Anna Duda

Report: 10 digital commerce trends here to stay

Read more

Blog Posts

How the pandemic revealed the antidote to marketing’s image problem

What does marketing truly ‘own’ in most organisations? Brand and campaigns, definitely. Customer experience? That remains contested ground.

Murray Howe

Founder, The Markitects

Still pursuing a 360-degree view of the customer?

On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” It may have been true in 1993 when this caption to a Peter Steiner cartoon appeared in the New Yorker. But after 30 years online, it’s no longer the case.

Agility in 2022

Only the agile will survive and thrive in this environment and that’s why in 2022, agility will need to be a whole-business priority.

Sam McConnell

Melbourne bureau chief, Alpha Digital

Sign in