Which is best for you and your business: a guest checkout option for your eCommerce page or an account signup form? 

In fact, this question might be too simple. Depending on your business model, you might find that deploying both options side by side on your pages gives you the greatest advantage. 

At NEXT BASKET, we want to help our customers as they optimize their digital marketing and online selling. Read on as we explore these aspects of your eCommerce strategy in more detail, comparing and contrasting two very different approaches.

The Definitions of Guest Checkout and Account Creation

The NEXT BASKET team believes modern businesses must use both guest checkout and account creation for their eCommerce store. 

So, let’s begin by defining these two terms.

What Is a Guest Checkout?

Guest checkout means your customers can complete a purchase as a guest without signing up for an account with your business. This results in a speedier experience for the customer during online shopping and reduces the level of interaction required between the customer and your business.

What Is Account Creation?

Account creation means the customer must sign up for an account with your business to complete the transaction – they cannot simply complete the transaction as a guest. If they are returning customers, they must sign into their account to reach the checkout stage.

Pros and Cons of Guest Checkout

A guest checkout policy can provide some benefits to your business, but it can also carry some disadvantages. Let’s take a look at what these are.

Advantages of Guest Checkout

We’ll start with explaining how is a guest checkout beneficial for your ecommerce site. 

NEXT BASKET can help you achieve great results from a guest checkout option on your site, but what benefits does this guest checkout provide to your business and your customers?

Convenience for the Customer

Guest shopping is certainly the most convenient option for your customers. It can be an effort to sign up for and then sign into an account, so using guest checkout forms is far more straightforward. In a competitive and fast-paced market, this can be a real boost.

Time-Saving for All Parties

Opting for a guest checkout page saves your customers a great deal of time, but it can also save time for you and your teams. With far less data to deal with and reduced management and maintenance requirements, guest checkouts can ease some of the workload for your personnel.

Lower Levels of Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment is when your customer makes a selection, puts an item in their digital shopping basket, but then does not go through with the purchase. This can happen for many reasons, but a major factor is customer motivation.

If the transaction process is long and inconvenient, they are more likely to abandon their cart. A straightforward guest checkout process can reduce the risk of cart abandonment for online stores.

The Disadvantages of Guest Checkout

Yes, there are some benefits, but all is not perfect in the world of guest checkouts. Take a look at some of the possible disadvantages of this transaction type.

Limited Data Collection

Your business thrives on data, and you must take full advantage of this resource as you learn more about your customers’ preferences and behaviors. But without a user account to base this on, how will you gain access to this data and categorize it? 

That’s the problem – you lose out on valuable customer data when you choose the guest checkout model.

Reduced Chance of Customer Retention

Easy come, easy go – this applies to the user journey when you opt for the guest checkout model. You may make it easier for leads to buy your product and convert into customers, but you are reducing the engagement needed to make the repeat sales.

Your customers have less reason to stick around after that first conversion. Or else said, loyal customers are more often those who actually create an account.

Less Personalization

The modern customer expects a personalized user journey catering to highly specialized needs. But, this is very hard to achieve without account creation. 

A key aspect of personalization is customer profile segmentation, and you can’t do this effectively if you cannot identify who your guest customers are.

Metrics to Track for Guest Checkout Performance

At NEXT BASKET, we recommend tracking several important metrics when you operate a guest checkout. Take a look at some of the most crucial below.

  • Cart Abandonment Rates: How many customers are leaving their carts without making a purchase? One of the key benefits of a guest checkout approach is a reduced cart abandonment rate, so track this metric and ensure you’re experiencing this benefit.
  • Conversion Rates: Conversion rates tell you how many visitors complete their purchases and convert themselves into customers. Another advantage of this approach is the frictionless route to the checkout, so you should – in theory – see increased conversions from your website visitors. Track this metric to make sure that it’s true in practice as well.
  • Bounce Rates: Your bounce rate tells you how many customers leave your website immediately after they arrive without purchasing or accessing your resources. As guest checkouts relate to a streamlined user journey and a happy customer, bounce rates should fall.

Tips for Optimizing the Guest Checkout Experience

How do you shape your customer experience to reap the benefits of guest checkout convenience without experiencing any of its disadvantages? At NEXT BASKET, we’ve got a few handy tips you can use.

Reduce the Number of Form Fields

There’s no such thing as a completely frictionless online shopping experience. You have to gather some user data – payment details, for example, or a billing address. 

To gain maximum benefit from a guest checkout facility, ensure you only request the necessary information from your guest shopper. Reduce the number of form fields for your guests and encourage conversions. 

Offer Guest Checkout as an Option

Customers like to feel valued and respected – they don’t particularly like being told what to do. Forced account creation is not likely to be a popular option among your first-time customers. 

Instead, you might want to show your visitors that they can use the guest checkout if they prefer.

Provide Incentives for Signups

While you don’t want to force your customers to sign up, you also do not want to suddenly find yourself with no customer account holders at all. It’s still a good idea to show your customers that signing up for an account with your business is worth their while. 

Publicizing your loyalty programs and their rewards, offering discounts on future transactions, or lowering or removing shipping costs can provide the encouragement your customers need.

The Pros and Cons of Account Creation

Now, let’s look at the account creation model. Just like with the guest checkout option, this approach has advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Account Creation

As you may have noticed above, there are real benefits to an account creation transaction model. Let NEXT BASKET help you realize some of these all-important advantages.

Customer Retention

The customer account represents a point of connection between you and your users. They are less likely to head elsewhere or to work with your competitors because they are signed up as existing customers with you.

Personalized Experiences  

The account essentially becomes your customer’s avatar on your site – this is their identity on your page, and it carries some of their data. In other words, you have an excellent foundation for personalizing your users’ interactions, applying the data insight required to make each point of contact meaningful and tailored to specific user needs.

Improved Data Collection

Your customers’ saved account information is a valuable resource that you can use as you learn more about your visitors, discovering who they are and what they need. 

When the user signs up for an account, they provide you with valuable information. As they interact with your business, they provide more information and update existing inputs, leaving you with a reliable data repository.

Disadvantages of Account Creation

It’s not all positive, however. There are some disadvantages to this approach.

Time-consuming for All Involved 

Account creation requires more time and effort for everyone involved – from the customers who need to input their information and create an account to the team members who need to manage and maintain the platform.

High Rates of Cart Abandonment

In many cases, you will find that more customers are abandoning their carts. This is because it takes longer for a customer to sign up for an account than if they were simply paying at a guest checkout. Customers may experience account fatigue and look for a competitor who will enable a guest checkout payment option.

Potential for Privacy Concerns

Asking customers to make an account with you also means requesting data from these customers. This is great for building your consumer profiles, but you must be aware of privacy and handling requirements. Choose a customer relationship management (CRM) solution with robust security measures and handle that data correctly. 

Metrics to Track When You Choose the Account Checkout Approach 

Tracking the right metrics will help you recognize how your account creation checkout approach is performing. The NEXT BASKET team has identified a few of the things you should be looking out for.

  • Account Signup Rates: How many people are signing up for accounts with your business? If you are achieving a high number of signups from leads and new customers, this shows that the process is straightforward and that your leads are interested in the incentives you offer. If the number remains low, you might need to make some changes. 
  • Account Login Rates: How often are customers logging into their online accounts? This is another useful metric to track, as it shows you how engaged your audience is. If they log into their accounts regularly, check their order and account history, or take advantage of another feature, your customer base is warm and relatively easy to market to.
  • Repeat Customer Rates and Values: Not everyone who logs into their account frequently will automatically become a regular customer. Some may become infrequent customers – reasonably engaged in your products and services but requiring a bit of extra encouragement. Others may fall victim to churn – disappearing altogether without making a follow-up purchase. Tracking how many customers return and how often can be useful as you seek to create lasting relationships. You can also analyze the total value of each returning customer over the entire lifecycle.

Strategies to Encourage Account Creation

Enabling guest checkout might be the most straightforward option for your customers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t point consumers toward the account creation path. 

Look at some handy strategies developed by NEXT BASKET, and use these to encourage more signups from your audience.

Simplify the Process

First and foremost, simplifying the process is key. Your customers may not have a problem opening their own account on your business’ website – they might just genuinely feel that the process is too long and inconvenient. 

So, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and make it shorter, more intuitive, and streamlined. Testing the process with different sample user groups will help you gain more insight.

Highlight the Key Benefits

Another possibility is that your customers do not know what the point of the account is – they don’t understand the benefits of signing up. With this in mind, try a communicative approach, ensuring all your customers understand the advantages of creating an account.

Provide Social Login Options 

You’ve probably seen those buttons asking you to Login with Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, or another social media platform. If you’re already logged in via the social media platform you select, you can create a set of login credentials with just a few taps. Customers value this straightforward alternative to a traditional signup process.

Key Takeaways From the Guest Checkout vs. Account Creation Debate

What has the ecommerce guest checkout vs. account creation debate taught us?

  • This is not an either/or choice in most cases. Depending on your business model, you may need to use both options for your customers.
  • Account creation is more valuable to your business, so it is worth considering how to encourage customers to sign up for an account.
  • Guest purchases may still play a part in your strategy. You may encounter customers who need a one-off purchase and don’t need to form a long-term relationship with you. For these customers, offering guest checkout might be the best option.

Trends and Predictions for the Future of Checkout Experiences in eCommerce Stores

We can expect checkout experience best practices to change quickly as eCommerce sites continue to develop. At NEXT BASKET, we predict some of the following shifts in this field:

Security Becomes Increasingly Important

High-profile data breaches have put security very much on the radar in recent years. Consumers not only want to see robust security from eCommerce providers; they expect it, too.

Mobile Shoppers Use Biometrics

Mobile devices are increasingly fitted with biometric inputs, like fingerprint, facial recognition technology. This could be used to make payments swifter but also more secure. 

The Customer Loyalty Battleground Grows Even More Fierce

It’s growing more difficult to achieve lasting customer loyalty. Modern customers have more choices than ever and may switch to a different provider or partner if they have a bad experience. 

Deploying a combination of guest checkout options and account signup capabilities may help you secure some of the customer loyalty you need while also targeting those one-off purchases.

A Greater Expectation of Personalization 

Personalization will continue to be a big differentiator for consumers searching for the right partner, but this may work differently. 

Tomorrow’s customers will understand that the technology required to achieve high levels of personalization is readily available. They will also recognize that businesses hold a lot of their data and may want to see something in return. In the future, a personalized experience will become almost a minimum expected standard for consumers, and businesses that can’t provide this may fall behind.

Ready to get more out of your eCommerce strategy? Reach out to the NEXT BASKET team, and let’s make this happen for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between guest checkout and account creation?

When you enable guest checkout, the customer does not need to sign up to your online store. Account creation is the opposite – the customer must sign up for an account before they can make a purchase.

Why should I ask my customers to sign up for customer accounts?

Creating accounts can help your business get to know your audience and encourage repeat customers with a tailored loyalty program.

Is guest checkout better than account creation?

Guest accounts can be more streamlined and easier to use, but you will also need to let your customers create accounts if you are to get the best out of eCommerce.