Cart abandonment is the most expensive problem you’re ignoring right now.
As we’ve said before, your e-commerce store may be losing thousands of dollars in revenue because your users don’t finish a transaction. There are several possible reasons this happens, not all of which are preventable. One of the most common is, however.
According to a study by Statista, the second most common reason that shoppers abandoned their carts was because they were forced to make a new account with the online store before checkout.
You may very well ask why that is. After all, if the customer is already planning on buying this product, why should taking a minute to set up an account stop them? Unfortunately, things are not that simple. There are several reasons that making an account can scare your customers away.
Clients want the checkout process to be quick and painless. Adding extra steps is enough to make your clients look elsewhere, and nothing is more complicated than setting up a new account. Two, chances are your client already has too many passwords and accounts to remember, and getting yet another one may not be worth the headache it will give them. Three, they may not trust you yet, or they might want to judge the quality of your product before committing to an account.
You might notice that this problem is mostly true for first-time customers. This is the most important market you want to tap, because the majority of your customers are most likely first or even one time shoppers. According to Digital Commerce, over half of online shoppers have purchased goods from an e-commerce site that they were visiting for the very first time. If you are running a small business, you simply cannot afford to alienate these new clients.
This is not to suggest that you should do away with making customer accounts altogether, far from it. Personal accounts are an important tool in your arsenal, and an excellent convenience for your customers. Creating an account with you will allow them to save their payment and shipping information to be used later. And by registering, you can send your customers newsletters and information about important deals and sales.
Making accounts also facilitates package tracking, reviewing, and making repeat orders. You should absolutely give your users the option to make an account, and make sure there are benefits to doing so. But that’s another article.
What’s the alternative?
Guest checkout, of course! Allowing users to purchase their products as guests is an excellent way to prevent cart abandonment. By letting them go ahead with the transaction with one click, the checkout process is simplified, and they can move ahead to payment with ease. Even if you and the customer both lose the benefits of a personal account, making the purchase is a win for your business. This is the reason that every major online retailer has guest checkout as an option. And, assuming they are satisfied with the purchase, they will be more willing to make an account with you as a returning customer.
When you are making your own website, it’s easy to get lost in the sheer amount of things you can do, particularly when it’s an e-commerce site. Take care that you don’t allow things you can do blind you to things that you should do. At the end of the day, your website’s job is to allow users to buy your products. Stay focused on tools that make that process as simple and pleasant as possible for your users.
Customer accounts are a perfect example of an important aspect that can easily spiral out of your control. There are simply so many benefits you can add to an account. A rewards program? Sure! Coupons with other sites? Why not? See what your friends and family have bought, create a shopping list, post it on Facebook!
You’ve probably seen sites that lean too heavily into this. They push the benefits of a user account so hard, and add so many features that just using it can feel like a chore. Obviously you want to make having an account appealing, but not to the point when it seems like you’re opening an entirely new social media account. Your e-commerce site should be a shop, not a shopping mall.
On a related note, pitching customer accounts should be saved for just before, and just after the transaction, and should be handled with care. Have you ever clicked checkout on a new e-commerce site, only to have a massive popup appear demanding you make an account, with the “continue as guest” link hidden in 8 point font at the bottom? Don’t be that shop. In fact, BigCommerce found that because guest checkout is an anonymous option for customers, first time buyers are more inclined to proceed with the checkout process than abandon their cart.
Being that aggressive when the user has already agreed to pay you is a good way to make them look elsewhere. The option to continue as a guest should be given almost as much prominence as the option to create a new account. You can afford to be a bit louder about it after the transaction is finished, so you can take advantage of that post-purchase buzz to sell them about the benefits of making an account.
If you want to be sure that you can get as many customers registered with your site as you can without scaring them off of buying your products, consider using open authorization, or OAuth. OAuth allows users to sign up for your website using an existing social media account, usually Facebook or Google. Most users on your e-commerce site will have an account with one of these sites, and trust them with all of the information they’d enter into a form for you.
By using open authorization, users can create an account with one touch of a button, which allows them to keep the simplicity of guest checkout while still getting the benefits of making a customer account. OAuth also has the benefit of being incredibly simple to implement, and is free to use to boot.
Like anything in your arsenal, user accounts are extremely useful, but only if used wisely. Moderation is the name of the game. By giving your customers the option to checkout as a guest, make accounts using their social media, and not being pushy about accounts in general, you can head off cart abandonment before it begins.
Even clients that you would not have lost will be more likely to shop with you again if their experience with you is pleasant. If they didn’t want to make an account before, they’re more likely to the second time!