In a highly competitive market, staying current is a big part of attracting new customers and retaining the customers you have. Customer experience (CX) is rather elusive in some ways because there are so many different elements playing into the experience a customer has with your brand.
In a survey of 318 companies in 20 different industries, researchers found customer experience and whether or not customers buy from a brand additional times correlate. For a bigger $1 billion company, better CX adds as much as $775 million in additional revenue over three years. Smaller brands still see an impact from improved online storefronts, customer service and better physical location signage.
For most industries, you compete with larger brands that have larger budgets than you. However, you can still update your storefront on a minimal budget by focusing on the elements that make CX better. Here are 11 ideas you can implement on budgets under $1,000, under $500 and even under $100.
1. Train Employees
One of the best investments for your business falls into the category of customer service. Around 67 percent of people say they'd pay a little more for an excellent buying experience and 74 percent of business owners indicated they would.
Who interacts with your customers? Your sales force and customer service support operators. If you only have $100 to invest, use it for a training session for those who interact with your customers on a daily basis. Ensure salespeople fully understand all of your policies and give them the freedom to go above and beyond to please customers.
If you have $500 to spend, invest in upgrading your customer support as well. Conduct phone training and go off-script instead of giving pat responses to customers.
If you have $1,000 to spend, include some team building exercises and implement an employee reward system where you give perks to those employees applying your customer service concepts.
2. Clean Everything
If you wish to update the way the front of your physical store appears, but you have a limited budget, a deep-cleaning does wonders. You can spend money only on cleaning supplies and do the work yourself, or spend a little more and hire professionals to clean the windows, pressure wash the building and touch up paint.
3. Add Signage
Take advantage of foot traffic by adding signage to your storefront. Whether you're in a strip mall, an enclosed mall or an independent building, signage draws in those driving or walking past and invites them into your store. You can't make a sell if people don't come into your store or visit your website. Consider including floor signage inside your store as well since 30 percent of sales link to floor signage and you can find fairly inexpensive options.
Use decals for pointing out a sale going on, announce exciting news or add privacy. There are different sizes of window vinyl and the material and size impact the cost. Your best bet is contacting a company specializing in business decals and letting them know your budget.
4. Use Bright Colors
Bright colors freshen up any building or website. If your current storefront looks a bit drab, add some fresh color in your signs, the decals mentioned above or paint your front door a bright color. For websites, add a splash of color to your logo or call to action (CTA) buttons.
Color has a specific psychology to it, such as the way orange grabs attention or green indicates environmentally friendly, so choose your colors wisely to evoke the emotion you want. Adding color doesn't have to cost much money — just the price of a gallon of paint for your door or the cost of a decal or new logo. Updating colors should be under $100.
5. Create a Customer-Central Company Culture
In one report, researchers looked at the how CX translates into effective marketing and impacts companies. One of the habits CX experts with at least four years of experience pointed toward was creating a company culture centered around the customer. Once everyone in your company puts the customer's needs first and understands the pain points of your target audience, how does that translate to your storefront?
The training mentioned in the first point in this article is an excellent start to meeting customer needs. Next, try to view the front of your store through the eyes of the consumer. Do you immediately understand what the store or e-commerce website offers? Consider your specific audience and what attracts them. If you're trying to draw Generation Z, you'll use bright, fun colors. If your customers are baby boomers, you might use serious colors that show you're reliable, such as a navy blue.
Studying your storefront through your customers' eyes requires only your time and attention to detail. It should meet the needs of any budget no matter how big or small and also allows you to use the budget you do have most effectively.
6. Hire a Design Student
The best designer in the city might be out of your financial reach, but the best design student at your local college isn't. Not only can you find a skilled almost professional to work on your outside redesign, but you'll offer the student a chance to gain valuable experience for their future career. Either advertise geared toward students or call the school and ask if they have any seniors who might be interested in a design project.
A design student can work on either your storefront, your signage or your website, so figure out how much your budget allows and be upfront about what you can and can't afford.
7. Create New Window Displays
Your window displays on a retail shop draw shoppers into your store. Have you ever walked past a clothing store and went inside because of the beautiful coat in the window? That is an example of a storefront display with impact.
The cost of creating new window displays depends on what you already have on hand and unique elements. Seek out furnishings and accessories from local secondhand stores and thrift shops. If you need mannequins, there are some plain models available for under $100 on Amazon or buy them secondhand. Your budget determines how detailed your displays are, but stand back and view the presentation from the eyes of the consumer from different distances to see what works and what doesn't.
8. Redesign Your Website
Your website is a digital storefront for your business. Over time, your site design gets outdated and possibly cluttered or not up on current technology. If you already have a website, updating it doesn't have to cost a bundle. Choose essential elements and change them a little at a time as your budget allows.
However, if you don't yet have a website and want to add an online storefront, getting it completed for under $1000 may present challenges. The average cost to build a small business website of fewer than 20 pages is between $2,000 and $8,000. Reduce expenses by gathering as much info as possible on your own and shopping for an efficient but inexpensive solution. For a small budget, you may not get the website of your dreams, but you can at least have an online presence for now.
9. Add Curb Appeal
Another way to inexpensively brighten up your storefront is with greenery and flowers. Buy a couple of large pots and place seasonal displays in them, such as mums in the fall or small evergreens in the winter. Decorate the pots any way you'd like, but think about the overall look of your storefront and how colors mesh with the rest of your look.
10. Invest in a Digital Sign
One way to grab the attention of a passersby, and announce upcoming events, is through a digital sign. Not every retail store features digital signs, so they still attract attention. An online search of programmable digital signs showed a range from a single line message sign just over $100 to a TV-screen size design at $800.
If you have less than $100 to spend, watch classified ads and social media sales groups for used signs for less.
11. Cut the Clutter
Research indicates that between 40 and 70 percent of people decide to purchase at a physical location — even if they ultimately buy online. Make their buying decision easier by getting rid of any clutter outside or in front of your store. Give everything a fresh, simplistic look, so the shopper's focus goes where you want it. Cutting clutter doesn't cost anything but your time and you may even sell some of the clutter and create more money for other renovations.
A new storefront draws customers into your store or online site, but once they arrive their overall experience determines whether or not they make a purchase and if they return to your store in the future. While spending money on a redesign works for the initial impression, make sure every point of contact your customer has with your brand is a positive one for the best return on your investment.
About the Author: Lexie Lu is a UX strategist and web designer. She enjoys covering topics related to UX design, web design, social media and branding. Lexie is a contributor to Marketo, Website Magazine and Envato. Feel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter at @lexieludesigner.