When developing an e-commerce website, you'll need to decide whether to allow guest checkouts or force shoppers to create an account.
Using the wrong checkout system will discourage shoppers from following through with your e-commerce website's sales process. You may convert some shoppers into customers, but you'll forfeit a significant number of sales to abandoned shopping carts.
So, should you allow guest checkouts on your e-commerce website?
Guest Checkouts vs Forced Account Checkouts: What's the Difference?
Both guest checkouts and forced account checkouts require shoppers to provide their shipping information -- name, shipping address and phone number -- as well as their payment information when making purchases.
The difference between these two checkout methods is that guest checkouts don't save shoppers' information.
When a shopper makes a purchase on an e-commerce website as a guest, the site won't save his or her information. As a result, returning shoppers must re-enter their information when making subsequent purchases.
Forced account checkouts, on the other hand, require shoppers to log in to their account to make purchases.
When a shopper doesn't have an account on the e-commerce website, he or she must create one if the site uses this checkout method.
Shoppers' information is saved in their respective account, meaning they can typically return to make additional purchases without re-entering their shipping and payment information.
Advantages of Guest Checkouts
Allowing shoppers to make purchases as a guest on your e-commerce website offers several advantages, one of which is increased shopper satisfaction.
Account creation is a tedious, multi-step process for shoppers that involves completing the account registration form, reading and clicking a link in the confirmation email and then logging in to their account. Guest checkouts eliminate these steps to create a simpler and more enjoyable purchasing experience for shoppers.
When a shopper checks out as a guest, he or she can rest assured knowing your e-commerce website won't save their shipping or payment information. Data breaches are a common concern among e-commerce websites, especially those with forced account checkouts.
Hackers can infiltrate servers and databases to steal information stored in shoppers' accounts. Checking out as a guest, however, provides shoppers with a greater sense of security since their information isn't saved.
Guest checkouts may also lower your e-commerce website's shopping cart abandonment rate. Statistics show e-commerce websites have an average shopping cart abandonment rate of 50 percent to 80 percent.
Countless factors influence whether a shopper will abandon his or her cart, but one of the strongest factors is the checkout method. According to Baymard Institute, over one-third of all abandoned shopping carts are attributed to forced account checkouts.
When confronted with an account registration form, many shoppers will simply leave your e-commerce website, along with their shopping cart, instead of completing the required steps.
With a lower shopping cart abandonment rate, you'll experience a higher conversion rate.
For e-commerce websites, conversion rate is a critically important performance metric. It reflects the percentage of shoppers that make a purchase after visiting your e-commerce website. Because guest checkouts encourage customers to complete their purchase, as opposed to abandoning their shopping cart, they can increase your e-commerce website's conversion rate.
Disadvantages of Guest Checkouts
While effective at reducing shopping cart abandonment rate and increasing conversion rate, there are some disadvantages to supporting guest checkouts.
Some shoppers, for example, prefer to make purchases while logged in to their account because it saves their information for future use. If your website only supports guest checkouts and doesn't offer account creation, you may notice fewer returning shoppers.
Depending on what e-commerce platform or software your website uses, shoppers may struggle to track their order if they check out as a guest. They can't just log in to their account to check the status of their order. Instead, they'll have to contact your e-commerce website directly for order updates.
Furthermore, customer service inquiries are more difficult to handle when shoppers check out as a guest as opposed to using an account. If a shopper checks out as a guest, you won't have his or her information saved in an easily accessible database. Therefore, you may have to scour through all your e-commerce website's recent orders to find the specific order the shopper is inquiring about.
Guest checkouts may restrict your ability to use email as a marketing medium on which to communicate with your e-commerce website's shoppers.
When a shopper checks out as a guest, you can send him or her order notifications -- assuming you collected their email address during the transaction -- but you won't be able to send the shopper commercial emails for your business's marketing activities.
For email marketing, you need shoppers to confirm their subscription to your e-commerce website's newsletter, which is easily achieved using account registration.
The Solution: Offer Guest Checkouts and Account Checkouts
Rather than using either guest checkouts or forced account checkouts, give shoppers the freedom to choose their method.
After a customer adds a product to his or her shopping cart and proceeds to the checkout page, for instance, include a "Check Out as Guest" button as well as a "Sign In" button, the latter of which should also feature a "Create a New Account" link.
By offering both guest checkouts and voluntary account checkouts on your e-commerce website, shoppers can use their preferred method to complete their purchase.
When a shopper is only planning to make a one-time purchase, he or she may prefer to check out as a guest. But if a shopper is planning to return to your e-commerce website to make additional purchases in the future, he or she may want to check out while logged in to their account.
While many of the internet's leading e-commerce websites use forced account checkouts, including Amazon, you shouldn't overlook the benefits of guest checkouts. It offers an easier and more convenient way for shoppers to make purchases, resulting in a lower shopping cart abandonment rate and a higher conversion rate. Just remember to offer guest checkouts as an optional alternative to account checkouts.
After the Checkout: Make Shipping Easy on Yourself with the Help of Fulfillment Bridge
Once you have your site optimized, from guests checkout options and pricing to images and user generated content, your sales will start to climb. Prepare to keep your customers happy and yourself sane by taking advantage of the full suite of Fulfillment Bridge Ecommerce solutions.