In Guest Checkout vs. Customer Checkout, Part 1: The Best Approach, we looked at some factors to consider when determining whether a guest checkout option is right for your ecommerce site.
The nature of your business and your customers’ order frequency both play a role in determining your checkout strategy. A guest checkout is ideal for reducing conversion friction, especially for first-time customers. It’s also a great way to circumvent the account fatigue that’s plaguing online consumers.
But even if you decide to offer shoppers the option of a guest checkout, there’s still a solid argument to be made for a customer checkout option.
THE BENEFITS OF CUSTOMER CHECKOUT
There are plenty of benefits to asking customers to register for an account. It creates better shopping, customer service and checkout experiences.
Storing shipping addresses and credit card info reduces checkout times, for example. That’s why repeat shoppers benefit the most from account creation. Having an account also allows customers to track their purchases and loyalty benefits, if you offer them (coincidentally, loyalty programs are a great way to incentivize customers to sign up for an account).
From a merchant’s perspective, accounts have advantages as well. Having a customer’s account information makes it easier for you to:
- Request product reviews post-purchase
- Link a customer’s order history
- Cross-sell to existing customers
Customers who create accounts are also more likely to come back to make a purchase.
So how do you satisfy your needs as an e-tailer and reduce friction for your customers?
THE SENSIBLE APPROACH
The key is in the execution of your registration process: don’t make account creation a separate feature from your checkout.
According to web usability experts at the Baymard Institute, account creation shouldn’t get in the way of users’ checkout efficiency. Their usability tests confirmed that offering optional registration on the “Thank You” order confirmation page is the best place to ask users to create an account.
“Delayed Account Creation,” as it’s called, simply gives guest shoppers the convenient option of saving the information they’ve just entered for future orders, aka an account.
The bottom line: get rid of the “sign up” barrier by offering guest checkout, but implement it in a convenient way to convert those guests into registered accounts. Do it at the end of the transaction process once customers have already shared their shipping and payment information.
While every design aspect of your ecommerce site is important, the checkout page is particularly so. See our Checkout Process Design Checklist for more tips.
Whether or not to offer guest checkout as an option for customers is a decision every ecommerce business has to consider at some point. And while there’s no right or wrong answer, there are some factors you should consider to help you determine which option is best for your business.
YOUR CUSTOMERS’ PURCHASE FREQUENCY
The nature of your business and your customers’ order frequency should play a role in determining your checkout strategy.
If you sell beauty products, for example, there’s a good chance your customers are repeat buyers. You sell items they will need to replenish, and you work hard to earn and retain their loyalty. You’ll probably want to encourage your customers to create an account.
On the other hand, if you sell mattresses, your sales from a single customer are likely to be occasional at best. It might not make sense, in this case, to ask people to create an account considering they’ll be returning to your site infrequently.
Problem solved, right? If only.
THE BENEFITS OF GUEST CHECKOUT
Even if your ecommerce business caters to repeat customers, you still need to give shoppers the option of a guest checkout. Here’s why.
First-time customers: When a shopper purchases something from your site for the first time, it is vital their initial interaction with your brand go smoothly. Since this is their first experience with your site, and the process of handing over personal information can be tedious (especially for mobile users), guest checkout options lets users “try out” your customer experience before committing to setting up an account.
Friction: Checkout friction is the enemy of conversions. If a shopper has spent time selecting products on your site, you want to minimize obstacles and distractions during the checkout process. And for a new customer, a request to create an account could be enough to cause them to abandon their cart. The last thing you want is to make the checkout process longer and give shoppers more time to reconsider their purchase.
Account Fatigue: It’s a thing, and it’s real. According to Understanding eCommerce, creating a new user account is the second-most popular reason for cart abandonment after extra costs. Many shoppers are turned off at the thought of having to create yet another account, thinking of a new password, and filling out their profile just so they can make a purchase. A guest checkout option circumvents all that.
With all the benefits of guest checkout, what are the advantages to asking visitors to create an account, if any?
Having a customer’s account information makes it easier for you to cross-sell to existing customers and request product reviews. Customers who create accounts are also more likely to come back to make a purchase. We’ll cover that, and more, in our next post - Guest Checkout vs. Customer Checkout, Part 2: The Best Approach.
You have order fulfillment down to a science and have hired a 3PL to handle storing, picking, packing and shipping your products. But your customer’s journey doesn’t end with order fulfillment. If you’re looking for a way to maximize your buyers’ unboxing experiences while driving customer loyalty and sales, we have a suggestion: packaging inserts.
THE BENEFITS OF PACKAGING INSERTS
Unboxing doesn’t have to be the end of the road in your customers’ purchase process. Think of it as the start of a different journey. In fact, selling to an existing customer is a lot easier than selling to a new one.
Let’s look at some customer retention statistics:
- The success rate of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent. The success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20 percent.
- Increasing customer retention by 5 percent can increase your profits from 25-95 percent.
- About 80 percent of your future profits will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers.
The reason it’s easier to convert existing customers is simple: they have already purchased from you, which makes them easier to retarget in your remarketing efforts. A well-targeted packaging insert will not only make customers feel special, it will increase brand loyalty too. There are many ways you can incorporate them into your customers’ unpackaging experiences.
PACKAGING INSERT IDEAS
Thank you notes: Add personalized thank-you notes that will make an impression with your customers. Don't say “Thank you for your order” which can make your customers feel like statistics. Show your customers you value their support rather than their business. Opt for "Thanks for choosing us" instead.
Promo codes: Give your existing customers a reason to make another purchase by including a promo code with an exclusive discount as an incentive. Don't forget to track and measure your ROI. Create campaign-specific promo codes to measure how many people redeem the code and how much they spend on each transaction.
Offers: Offer free shipping on their next order. Everyone loves free shipping, especially if it’s exclusive to them. Not only will this offer incentivize your customers, it’s also an effective way to minimize buyer’s remorse. “I didn’t really need that, but I had free shipping, so…”
Feedback: Ask your customers to write a review of their purchase. Customers who write reviews tend to develop a loyalty to that business because it gives them a voice in the online purchasing process. The easiest way to get customers to review your product? Just ask.
Free samples: Product samples are technically packaging inserts, so consider adding a free gift along with purchases. Your customers will be delighted at the idea of getting something unexpected for free. It’s the principle of reciprocity in marketing. When you offer your customers something helpful for free, they will feel indebted to you.
Packaging inserts can improve your brand perception and boost your marketing reach. They are also a cost-effective way to drive customer loyalty and sales. Personalize them, and you’ll be on your way to maximizing your buyers’ unboxing experiences.
The main function of product pages is to give users the information they need to make purchasing decisions. There is lots of information you can add to product pages to make them more useful to potential customers. And if you have an online store, you know that the images on your product pages matter to customers – a lot.
According to a recent survey by Salsify Today, shoppers expect at least six images and two videos for each product they view online. But quantity is not the only important factor. Consumers also cited poor quality images as one of the top reasons for leaving a product page.
Since the amount of product images and their quality directly impacts conversions, your product photography should be a crucial component of your ecommerce strategy. Luckily, getting quality product images on your site doesn’t mean you have to blow your budget on a professional photographer. In fact, you can capture amazing product shots using your iPhone or Android phone. Here are our six favorite DIY ecommerce product photography tips:
1. Maintain Brand Consistency
Create a brand image and stick to it. No product photo should appear like it belongs somewhere else. A consistent look helps your customers cultivate trust in your business, which leads to increased loyalty and higher conversions. To stay consistent:
- Standardize your image sizes, style and product positioning
- Use the same filters and retouching techniques for a consistent style
- Keep shadows uniform
- Establish a process for creating new images that's easy to repeat
2. Use a White Background
Ever wonder why so many ecommerce sites shoot their products against plain, white backgrounds? For one, it makes products stand out by minimizing distractions. It also helps create a consistent feel that’s easy to reproduce.
If you’re shooting a white product on a white background, Pixelz recommends making sure your background is properly lit to create separation and include floor shadows so your products don't look like they're floating.
3. Opt for Natural Lighting
Great lighting makes products pop—and you don’t need professional equipment to achieve it. While shooting outdoors has too many hard-to-control variables, setting up indoors near a large window works just as well. For best results, make sure the natural light comes into the room at a 90-degree angle to your product. If the light is too direct and harsh, try diffusing it with a sheer curtain.
4. Understand Scale and Composition
Pay attention to scale, which can be tricky. Don't shoot your products in a way that makes them look too small or too big. As a general rule of thumb, your product should occupy at least 85 percent of the image’s frame. When shooting, we recommend positioning your camera on a tripod, level with and directly facing your product.
5. Shoot from Different Angles
Shoppers want to see at least six images of a product when shopping online. Make sure you deliver. Take multiple shots from a variety of angles so your customers can get a feel for what your products looks like. The more options and choices you have, the better.
6. Pay Attention to Image Resolution
Perfect lighting, angles and composition won't matter if your images are low-resolution. Your customers should be able to click your images to properly examine each product. Use an image compression tool to reduce the file size of your images as much as possible to limit page load time – without sacrificing image quality.
Because online customers can’t physically touch your products, photos are indispensable to your ecommerce success. Make sure they are high-resolution and showcase your products from a variety of angles to maximize conversions. And remember to be consistent with your shooting style to help your DIY images look more professional.