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Your customer has added items to their basket, clicked to proceed to checkout, so what should they see on the next page?
Well, since registration has been shown to be a barrier to conversion, they should see a page that takes an email address and eases them into the checkout proper.
But are sites doing this? Here are a few examples from ecommerce sites...
Best practice for login/checkout pages
The most important thing to realise is that registration is not only harmful, it is also unnecessary. Here's a famous example of why.
The customer's email address has to be captured anyway for order confirmation as does name and address for delivery, so the only thing missing from registration is a password.
This can be asked for on the order confirmation page, automatically generated and sent to the customer by email or offered as a 'create password' link on the order confirmation email. Therefore, why make it into a barrier when you can provide an easy way to register later in the process?
For example, ASOS changed its logon page from this:
Once customers get past this page, they still have to enter the same amount of information, and will create an account at the end, but a simple re-ordering of the process halved the number of abandonments at this stage.
In general, on these pages, retailers need to offer login for returning customers, so they have their checkout details pre-populated, while offering a guest checkout option for others. You could also offer the option of creating an account, though this may be unnecessary.
This is an excellent example from Macy's. Nice clean page, which focuses the user's attention on the key features:
Also, key information on returns and shipping is available, while a clear phone number provides an option for any customers with doubts / questions.
Walmart provides the option of a guest checkout or creating an account, but sells it as a choice between saving time now or later.
An interesting approach from Sears, which dispenses with the login page altogether and sends you straight into the checkout form.
From the shopping cart page...
...to this. No messing about, and no barriers to purchase:
Another good example here. Very clear page, and no pressure to register.
Tesco makes it compulsory for customers to register before they can enter the checkout.
Perhaps the retailer thinks it is big enough, and it has enough Clubcard customers, that this will prove to be less of a barrier.
However, I would think this could deter a number of casual shoppers, so I'd suggest that Tesco tests a guest checkout to see what difference it could make.
This is an excellent example. No pressure to register at all, and John Lewis uses the page to provide key contact details and offer security reassurances.
We've covered the Boots website before, and forcing customers to register is just one factor which may be affecting its conversion rates.
Amazon does make customers register before entering the main checkout, but it does this without it seeming to be too much of a barrier.
New customers need to enter an email address and click the relevant radio button:
Then they can register relatively quickly on this next page:
House of Fraser
Very simple, and no barrier at all.
The shopping cart and checkout login pages, and the rest of checkout, are all blended together here, and there is a guest checkout option.
However, all of the navigation and links remain, so the page does provide plenty of distractions for shoppers.
This is a fairly random sample, intended to display a few different approaches to the checkout login (or pathway) page.
In most cases, the same amount of information is required of shoppers, so it's often about how they are asked for this, and the order in which they have to enter it.
For example, aside from the Clubcard number (which is optional anyway), the House of Fraser and Tesco checkouts require the same information.
One (Tesco) makes this a barrier, the other removes this barrier and brings customers straight into the purchase process. Which is better? I'm betting on HoF...