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: 

To 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...

Sears shopping cart 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. 

Tesco checkout registration page

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. 

John Lewis

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. 

American Apparel

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. 

In summary

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... 

Graham Charlton

Published 28 October, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (5)


Anthony Cook, MD at Mobile Fun Limited

Worth noting the usability challenge of having customers who may be returning customers, but who have chosen to use the guest checkout previously. Getting the wrong wording on a login form can prove frustrating, note the different between "returning customer login" and "registered customer login".

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at SaleCycle

Good point Anthony. I also wonder about some of the options, such as those from House of Fraser and Sears, which almost discourage logging in.

almost 5 years ago


Simon Lamble

We've found that apart from in a handful of their favourite stores, users often have no idea as to whether they have an account there or not.

Far better then to use an approach that takes the pressure of remembering away from the customer (along with the frustrations associated with getting it wrong and getting stuck) and use business logic to work out whether they need to enter a password or not.

To that end, the House of Fraser example above would get my vote.

almost 5 years ago

James .

James ., Director, Digital Strategy & Optimisation at Personal

Really interesting article that showcases the challenges online retailers face when designing login pages. Unfortunately, login pages are just part of the challenge when it comes persuading customers to complete so this article just made me think even more checkout optimisation and cart abandonment

Some great comments as well about how you manage the wording around the options you provide. The phrasing of the checkout options is exceptionally important and it is imperative updates are tested as the wrong phrasing can easily lead to increased abandonment.

We have also noticed that people who utilise a guest checkout sometimes then return to the site and try to login as they think they have an account or they contact the company saying they cannot login.

Each option presents its own challenges but that is part and parcel of online design, development and optimisation.

almost 5 years ago



Very interesting article and something to keep in mind however I think the biggest barriers people have to creating an account is the word "account" and what information you intend on keeping about them (privacy issues).

For most people, when they see the word account, they instantly think it is like a bank account or credit account and people will avoid this if they think it will get them into further debt or become difficult to manage. Better to use the word "Profile" instead. This indicates that it is just like any other profile such as facebook, twitter, etc. It keeps a record of past orders, any favourites, alternate delivery / payment addresses, etc.

Every business needs to keep sales records and if items need to be returned or redelivered, its probably a good idea to keep track of what is happening there. Most people will accept you keeping there general address information on file for this purpose without issue as long as that is all you are keeping on file. They don't want to have you keeping a record of their credit card details (and yes we have people who insist on ordering over the phone and telling us they gave us their credit card last time and to just use that one again even though we don't have a record of the full card number or any of the information needed to validate the credit card like the CVV or expiry date) for obvious security reasons. Its just a simple matter of making sure that the customer knows this information is not going to be recorded with their profile and that it will be asked for each and every time. Ultimately, the only difference between creating a customer profile and the information we need to establish the order with all of the relevant payment and shipping addresses is the provision for a password so that the customer can log back in and get copies of their invoices (we also send them via email), re-order from a previous order, use the favourite product items they have set and save time if they want to order again.

Also make sure any information recorded into a profile and the entire checkout process are shown on secured pages (with an active SSL Certificate). Privacy is the number one issue for most customers so keeping things secured is a must. Ease and usability are your next 2 issues which this article covers well.

almost 5 years ago

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