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Forcing users to register their details before they checkout is a proven way of reducing your conversion rate.

Once a customer has chosen what they want to buy, they don’t want to have to fill in loads of forms and create an account before they can make a purchase.

ASOS managed to halve its abandonment rate at the registration page simply by removing any mention of creating an account, and another retailer added $300m to its annual revenues by removing the registration button.

But despite the evidence in favour of guest checkouts, many retailers (such as HMV) still force customers to create an account.

With this in mind, I looked at which of the top 10 US retailers still require users to register before checkout...

Why not make customers register? 

There are benefits for retailers if customers register. It allows the retailer to begin the process of building a more meaningful relationship with the customer, to learn from their preferences in order to personalise their offers and on-site experience. 

It also makes it easier for retailers to ask for feedback, or for customers to leave reviews of the products they have purchased. 

The problem is, customers don't generally like registering. They see it as an obstacle, hence the value of the guest checkout option. 

A recent Econsultancy / Toluna study found that 25.6% of online consumers would abandon a purchase if they were forced to register first: 

After adding items to your basket, what would make you abandon your purchase?

This doesn't mean that retailers cannot encourage customers to register and create accounts, just that they need to be more subtle about it.

By allowing a guest checkout option, then using the data the customer inputs during the purchase process, all retailers need to do is offer the option at the end, thus the barrier is removed, and customers can still create an account, without too much effort. 

So, which retailers are taking this approach? 

Amazon

Nearly everyone must already be registered with Amazon’s one-click payment tool, but new customers are still forced to create an account.

As a company that frequently comes out on top of the most-trusted online brands, Amazon can probably get away with it.

Staples

Staples has a guest checkout option which also gives customers the option of creating an account.

It encourages users to register by saying it will allow them to ‘save time next time,’ which is a good tactic as it makes it seem like you are doing the user a favour rather than forcing them to create an account.

Apple

Apple has a guest checkout with the option of creating an account during the transaction.

In reality, when spending more than $1,000 on a laptop some users may prefer the extra security of having an account so they can track their order more easily, but it’s still a good idea to give the option of guest checkout.

Walmart

Walmart gives the option of a guest checkout or creating an account, but sells it as a choice between saving time now or later.

Dell

Dell is apparently so averse to making users register that new customers are only offered a guest checkout option.

You can create an account later in the process, but it seems an odd decision to totally remove the option to register upfront.

Office Depot

Office Depot gives the option of a guest checkout or registering, and spells out in bold that customers “are not required to have an account to shop with us”.

Best Buy

Create and account or checkout as a guest, the choice is yours.

OfficeMax

Yet another retailer that only offers guest checkout, with the option of creating an account “after checking out”.

Newegg

The electronics retailer is only the second company on this list that forces new customers to register before they can checkout.

Macy’s

Macy’s is another site that doesn’t immediately offer new customers the chance to create an account. Instead it only gives a guest checkout option for customers that “don’t want to create a profile”.

Conclusion

Just two out of the top 10 US retailers force you to register before checkout. In fact, three of them don't give new customers the option to create an account upfront, they only allow guest checkout with registration coming later in the checkout process.

This shows that brands are aware that forced registration is a leading cause of basket abandonment and have taken action to remedy it.

Reducing the barriers to purchase is an easy way of increasing conversion rates, and these retailers have done a great job of not only reducing the barriers but also encouraging transactions by flagging the guest checkout as a way to save time.

David Moth

Published 19 July, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1680 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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James Hall

Great article. I'm happy that proving guest checkout options on line is finally catching on with the major retailers. Avid on line shoppers often find it distressing to think about how many different sites and on line retailers have their personal information. And as it has been stated in the article, the benefits for the retailers themselves are vast.

about 4 years ago

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Alex

Seems like a good thing. out of top 10 us retailer offers checkout. best buy offers checkout. because i usually checkout as a guest.

over 3 years ago

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Rebecca Jay, Managing Director at Dodo Pad Ltd

I googled 'are there benefits to letting a customer check out as a guest' today - almost three years on since your blog post. I'm interested to know if you still think guest check out is an advantage in July 2015? We currently offer it (have done o since we started using the ecommerce solution we are on in 2011 ,but has the consumer moved on? I would welcome your view. Thank you.

about 1 year ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

Hi Rebecca, thanks for your comment. It's an interesting question and not one that I know the answer to. I'll see if I can find any other studies, but it's also something you'd probably need to test on your own site to see how customers react.

about 1 year ago

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