Don’t Make Me Sign Up!

In my last post “Why as Many as 33% of Your Customers Abandon Their Purchase Online”, I wrote about the fact that as many as 1/3 of your customers will abandon their online purchase if extra costs are added to their order late in the checkout process. Today I’m going to discuss my personal pet peeve and the reason why, according to a study done by Baymard Institute, 23% of consumers abandon an online purchase – forced account creation.

We’ve all been there. We add some items to our cart, go to checkout, and we’re suddenly told that we need to login or create an account in order to complete our order. This is a turn off for many customers for the following reasons:

  1. People don’t want to sign up for yet another account. We already have too many usernames and passwords to remember. Most people don’t want another one.

  2. People are afraid that if they create an account, they’ll now start getting a myriad of emails from the company. Somehow, once we’ve created an account, we feel as if we’ve formed a relationship with a site and with that relationship will come a fair amount of spam. No one likes spam.

  3. People are nervous about where their information is being stored. In today’s world of internet privacy and data breaches, many of us are hesitant to create accounts with sites that we don’t frequent often. The thought of our information being stored somewhere it doesn’t have to be doesn’t sit well with most of us. Trust me, I understand that my information is everywhere. Remember, my background is in data security and large scale e-commerce systems so I know it’s inevitable to a degree. However, most of us don’t want to voluntarily let our information be stored somewhere if it’s not necessary.

  4. It’s a pain in the ass. The whole idea behind shopping online is that is saves time and is convenient. No lines, no searching through aisle after aisle. Making users now go through a registration process defeats this purpose and can be seen as a hassle. Let’s face it; you don’t have to create an account when you go to a local department store to shop. Why should you have to do it online?

All that being said, having the option to create an account is not a bad idea. We offer this option on our website (http://www.wickedgoodcupcakes.com). Having an account can have many benefits. We let our customers save addresses in their address books, set up alerts for future events (birthdays, anniversaries, etc) as well as receive and use reward points for frequent purchases. However, account creation is optional. Along with making account creation optional, it’s also important that you make that very clear on your site.  The option to checkout without creating an account should be the most obvious option.

For example, take a look at the screenshot below.

staples

This is the first screen shown when trying to checkout at Staples.com. The first thing a user’s eyes will see are the words Secure Checkout with a username and password field right below it. Right off the bat, a high percentage of users will leave, not realizing they have an option. If they do continue to read the page, the next thing they’ll see is New Customer? followed by some text (don’t make your users have to read!) that seems to indicate that I may still need to create an account. It’s not abundantly clear if I can simply checkout, or if I need to create an account in order to complete my purchase.

If it were my site, I’d reorganize it as follows.

staples2

I’d put the “Guest Checkout” on the left. This way it’s obvious to someone that there’s no need to create an account or that you don’t need to have an account to checkout. I’d remove all the text that tells them they’ll have the option of creating an account as they go. No need to confuse the user right now. You can introduce that option gracefully later on in the process (in my opinion, this would be the very last step so the user never feels that it is a requirement to complete the purchase). I’d move the customer login to the right so it’s not as prominent. I’d also change the heading from Secure Checkout to Already Have an Account? Using the term Secure Checkout doesn’t make any sense here. Is my checkout not secure if I checkout as a guest?

Making this simple change will make a quicker and easier checkout for your customers. It will also make it very clear to them that creating an account is not required.

Giving your customers the ability to create accounts for ease of ordering in the future is a good thing. For those who want to take advantage of having an account, this feature can be helpful in creating good customer loyalty and giving customers special perks or rewards for frequent orders.  For those who are simply looking for a quick an easy checkout however, this can be a lost sale if they feel it is required. So make sure there’s a clear an easy path to checkout for “guests” and keep the 23% of users who abandon when they see that they need to create an account.