One of the biggest barriers for customers about to use a checkout is forcing them to register their details first.

Presenting them with page after page of forms in which they need to fill out the most unnecessary of personal details is a quick way to send your customers to the exit, leaving many abandoned baskets and lowering your conversion.

Earlier today I looked at 30 UK retailers and which ones force their customers to register, now it's time to turn our attention to the USA.

Please note: in the UK version of this article I investigate different sites from the ones featured here, including UK versions of Amazon and Apple. These checkouts are identical to their US counterparts, so please click on the link above to see my findings.

American Eagle Outfitters

A guest checkout means we’re off to a flying start. The language is also suitably laid back and pressure free: “no worries” and “you can choose”.

Barnes and Noble

Positioning guest checkout to the left, subtly infers that customer convenience is a priority. 

Right from the beginning of the process you can see that creating an account Is optional and will happen after payment.

Best Buy

Another guest checkout, making three for three so far. “No problem”. Ecommerce shopping in the USA so far seems like a very relaxing proposition.

Best Buy also has one of the clearest and user-friendly checkout experiences I’ve witnessed.

Blue Nile

There seems to be a theme developing here where all new customers have to click the same button and go through the same process, with the option to create an account appearing after payment. This is very encouraging.

CDW

Drat. CDW ruined the winning streak. This form doesn’t just ask for your email though, it even asks for a username (even through you’ve just used your unique email), a password and then it slaps you in the face with a Captcha.

Costco

Costco presents immediate forced registration, on a rather cluttered checkout page.

Crate & Barrel

A beautifully succinct guest checkout, also with an added option for ‘express checkout’, which subtly suggests that choosing to register your details, will have its benefits.

Dell

Dell offers multiple convenience for checkout, sign in as guest or with any of the listed social profiles.

I also like the clutter free checkout, where you can easily access the benefits of creating an account.

Eddie Bauer

Guest checkout is featured, but with this many options it’s easy to miss it. Perhaps streamlining guest checkout with registering is the key here.

Foot Locker

There is a guest checkout here with option to create an account later.

Gap

As well as offering guest checkout, Gap also states clearly why it needs your email address in the first place.

The Home Depot

Guest checkout and the reassurance that emails will only be used for order confirmations.

JC Penney

A nice minimalist guest checkout, with an option to use PayPal on the previous screen for added convenience.

Kohl’s

The benefits are spelled out in both ‘returning customer’ and guest checkout areas, with the ability to create an account presented as an option at the end.

J Crew

A great piece of copy is featured here in the guest checkout, with plenty of reassurance and clarity.

Macy’s

There’s slightly different wording in this example from other guest checkouts. ‘No profile yet?’ possibly creates confusion for the customer and could be a barrier for those wanting a quick checkout. 

Musician’s Friend

Here there’s an entry field that multiplies depending on which option along the top you’ve chosen.

Perhaps a few words on why it requires an email address wouldn’t go amiss here.

Newegg

A far too cluttered checkout, with a wide array of options possibly clouds the guest checkout.

Nordstrom

A guest checkout is presented, however the option to create an account is offered on the next screen where address information in needed. I would suggest this would be better placed after payment.

Office Depot

Guest checkout is prioritised above the separate create new account option, with social sign-in and PayPal options available too.

Sears

Sears keeps all its options together, with a single email entry field. Registration benefits are clearly stated. 

Staples

Staples buries its guest checkout option and goes a little too heavy on spelling out the benefits of registration.

Target

Target is pretty easy going with its guest checkout. “You don’t need to sign in, just continue and create an account later if you'd like.”

Victoria’s Secret

Very tastefully presented options, plus this is one of the only examples here to offer the PayPal option on the same page.

Walmart

And finally, Walmart presents a guest checkout and even states there’s a PayPal option when you get to payment.

Results...

According to my own users tests an impressive 23 out of the 25 top US ecommerce sites offer a guest checkout.

This is fantastic news and something we should definitely think about in the UK, where only a third of the sites I tested used guest checkout.

Guest checkouts offer convenience and speed for the customer and a quick route to conversion. If you provide customers with the minimum amount of barriers and distractions they will likely come back to your site. They may also be in less of a rush next time and may even have time to 'save their details' with you.

Guest checkout also doesn't have to mean losing valuable customer data, as long as registration options are provided at the end of checkout and the details are already filled out.

For more on ecommerce from the blog check out this best practice guide to guest checkouts and these 11 world's best checkouts.

Come to our Festival of Marketing event in November. A two day celebration of the modern marketing industry, featuring speakers from brands including LEGO, Tesco, Barclays, FT.com and more.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 18 September, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (6)

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Guest

Isn't it 23 out of 25? I only see CDW and Costco not offering guest checkout as an option?

about 3 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

@Guest - Thank you anonymous, you are correct.

about 3 years ago

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Gordon McNevin

I hate registering for ANOTHER account on websites after you hear about how they loose all the customer details in hacks etc. It's just another password/username to store and create. Seeing the guest checkout always puts a smile on my face.

about 3 years ago

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CD

@ Gordon - I wonder how many of these retailers actually keep the customer data entered. Bit of kidology going on methinks........

about 3 years ago

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Reinis Reinis, none at none

“One of the biggest barriers for customers about to use a checkout is forcing them to register their details first – Use Guest Checkout” - is what’s advised by nearly all ecommerce experts, which I don’t fully understand. What is that big barrier? Password? Customer still has to fill all the personal details for shipping & invoice etc. So adding one single password field is so huge game changer? We are in process of building new ecommerce website so its been on my mind a lot lately

p.s. even you ask to register (with many fields to fill) to leave this simple question....

over 2 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Reinis, It's perhaps more about the perception of how much work registration involves rather than the actual work. If customers can set a password later on in the process anyway, then why make it a barrier?

over 2 years ago

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