Guest Checkout vs. Customer Checkout, Part 2: The Best Approach

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.

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