E-Commerce checkout presents customers with many decisions. The more decisions that exist in the checkout experience, the more you’ll find customers either abandoning the checkout or calling in to place their orders. Neither situation is particularly desired. If we’re doing our jobs right, we’ve eliminated as many extra decisions as possible. Studies show that providing fewer options to customers generally leads to a happier and more confident customer after they’ve made their decisions.
If we are doing our job correctly, we’ve eliminated as many options from our store’s checkout process as possible. And if we’ve left any options on the table, we make assumptions for the customer based on data, then allow them to change that assumption if they need something different.
So what do I mean when I talk about options? Here’s one of the checkout decisions typically presented to customers: Should I create an account?
The step of asking a customer to log in can be a confusing one with more options than necessary. What I often see are these questions:
- Have an account? Sign In
- Don’t have an account? Sign up
- Don’t want an account? Checkout as a guest
When a new customer sees these three options they’re going to hesitate. Do I want an account? Will I ever shop here again? Do I get anything special for having an account? Will this store spam me with promotions I won’t use? Will it take much longer to sign up?
Meanwhile, we as store owners are chanting in the background “Siiign UP! Siiign UP! Siiign UP!” But more important than wanting a customer to sign up, we should want our customers to enjoy the purchase experience and feel confident in what they’ve bought. If these things are done well, the customer will prefer to create an account.
So while this step is extremely important to the checkout process, a less stressful way of proposing the question might be this:
- Have an account? Sign in
- Don’t have an account? Checkout Now (If you want, you can create an account after you purchase)
Oh good, my decision is made for me – I don’t have an account so there’s nothing else to choose! Continue on to checkout!
Now we’ve driven our customer right into checkout without a hitch. But what do we do to finally create an account for our new customer?
One of the better ways I’ve seen to convert a guest into an account is to use a simple checkbox on the order review step. The box can be titled something to the effect of “I want to create an account” and placed directly above the “Place Order” button. Customers will be more likely to create an account at this point because they’ve enjoyed checkout (haven’t abandoned), and they know there aren’t any more steps to prolong the whole process. We’ve already got all their information, so why not? A customer then clicks the box and two password fields appear. I know, I know – there’s no easy way to avoid requiring a password short of choosing a password for the customer, sending an authorization email to the email on file, and having the customer create a new password after clicking the link. I can’t say which solution is less painful. But look on the bright side – the customer not only placed an order but also created an account! And the decision was pretty much made for them. A win on both sides.
How does your store handle guests in checkout?