There are many benefits to providing customers with the ability to checkout anonymously and without the additional barrier of registering for an account. In fact, if conversions are diminishing on your checkout page, it may be because one in every four abandoned carts is due to forced registration. Conversely, guest checkouts often come with the consequence of forfeiting data that may make future marketing messages or onsite experiences more personalized. Thankfully, savvy ecommerce merchants have discovered a way to attract checkout registrations, without forcing them. For merchants struggling to create a streamlined checkout due to their inability to abandon forced registration, this post will highlight how to combine the best aspects of membership and guest checkouts.
While multiple studies agree that forced registration is a conversion killer, there are several reasons many online merchants will not abandon this approach. Benefits of compulsory registration before checkout include:
- Ability for merchants to personalize marketing campaigns and site pages towards existing customers, based on past purchases
- Increased conversions from mobile customers, who will not need to go through the process of filling out form fields on their phone or tablet
- Streamlined checkout for repeat customers and subsequent purchases will be made easier since form information will be saved or auto filled
- Opportunity to build relationships because merchants can use the data to build strong customer relationships, leading to increased customer retention.
In addition to the benefits forced registration brings online retailers, customers who undergo the process of creating an account profit from special offers, order tracking and access to order history.
However, these benefits come at a cost. Online shopping cart abandonment does not only occur during the initial purchase when membership is compulsory, but in subsequent purchases as well. Forrester Research found that for customers who were in the process of making a purchase but who had forgotten their password, only 25% tried finishing their checkout after clicking the “Forgot password?” link. In addition, nearly half of registered customers had registered under multiple accounts, some as many as ten. Additionally, their are several psychological barriers associated with forced registration for first time customers, some of which include:
- Fear of privacy regarding personal information and that it may be passed onto third parties
- Concerns surrounding the lengthiness and timeliness of the registration
- Receiving ongoing emails surrounding promotions, sales and advertisements when the consumer has not opted in
- Remembering additional passwords will be burdensome
Creating a Streamlined Checkout Process
For many, offering a guest checkout eliminates the mental barriers of registering to pay for an online order. Customers are able to purchase orders swiftly and anonymously. And with the highest level of cart abandonment seen at the very first step of checkout, most ecommerce retailers cannot afford to ignore this practice. So how do merchants create a streamlined checkout experience without forfeiting the opportunity to record important customer information? ASOS found an approach that halved their cart abandonment rate without eliminating their compulsory checkout. They did this by removing any mention of account creation/registration.
When customers who have never purchased before reached the first step of checkout, ASOS successfully avoids any mention of registration one again by labeling the page which would normally be associated with account creation as “About You”. The company is able to remove perceived barriers associated with membership registration when checking out, not only through their language use but through other tactics as well. For instance, a progress bar indicates how far through the checkout process their customers are, giving them the impression that they are immediately making progress when they begin checking out.
Lastly, the company removes any hesitation that would normally deter a customer from completing a purchase through effective communication. Notes beside form fields which request personal information assure shoppers that the requests are justified and even beneficial for the customer. In addition, any instructions are clear and straightforward, making password creation effortless.
For merchants who are looking to create a checkout that enables registration, the tactic outlined above has definitely proven successful. However, there are many alternative strategies that will also boost conversions. Creating a one page checkout that encompasses contact information, billing address, delivery address and payment information will prevent purchase hesitation. At the end of the page ask customer if they would like to save their details for next time – this implies convenience. Additionally, offering alternative payment methods through which customers have already created accounts will make checking out as easy as filling in a password.
It’s evident that forcing customers to register for your ecommerce store will convenience both you and them in the long run, especially if they’re repeat purchasers. However, more often than not shoppers will be more concerned with short-term convenience. Opting for a seamless one-page checkout or disguising forced registration will remove hesitation surrounding the lengthiness of registration and give online merchants the information necessary for future marketing campaigns.