What are the common pros and cons associated with guest checkouts?
I don’t know about you, but frequently when I first make a purchase with a brand online, I want the option to checkout as a guest. Being forced to create an account with a brand I have no affinity with yet generally sees me abandoning cart and going elsewhere.
Recently, as I was all tucked up in bed and ready to sleep, I remembered a birthday I needed to send a card for urgently. I took to Google on my phone and found a card I liked from a brand I shall leave nameless. I was sleepy and wanted to checkout fast so I could rest my weary head, but when I came to checkout, I was greeted with:
No guest check out! I don’t use Facebook, so my only option was to create an account. Frankly, I was tired, couldn’t be bothered with the faff, and didn’t fancy giving a brand I was yet to have any experience with all of my details and permission to bombard me with emails.
I abandoned cart, found another nice card elsewhere, and quickly purchased it using a guest checkout. I received my order confirmation with invoice by email, and the card arrived on time.
Next day, thinking about how annoying it was that I couldn’t purchase the card I had originally liked simply and quickly, I took to Instagram stories with a bit of snarkiness.
And fair play to them, the brand in question responded pretty quickly:
This got me pondering the overall pros and cons of having a guest checkout.
“On a positive note, the number of sites that force all users into creating an account has decreased slowly since our very first checkout usability benchmark back in 2012. In 2012, 24% of sites forced all users to create an account (i.e., had no “Guest Checkout” option); in 2016 the number decreased to 20%; in 2020 this is now down to 18%.”
So what are the common pros and cons associated with guest checkouts?
Reduced cart abandonment – a big problem for ecommerce = with an average of 68% abandoning according to Baymard.
Faster check out time
Little to no customer data retained (GDPR friendly)
Buyer required to handover less to you
No password to remember
Creates a more positive first experience of your brand – users may be more inclined to sign up on their next visit
Unable to personalise repeat visits
No email marketing – unless you have a tick box people can select if they would like to receive marketing emails
No loyalty programmes
No saved order history
Speaking to a lot of people, and considering my own buying habits, many tend to prefer guest checkout on their first purchase with a brand. If that experience is good, they are far more likely to create an account next time.
Forcing account creation on a first visit can be very off putting. It feels like a big commitment handing over information to a company you have yet to get the measure of, and constantly having to create new accounts, leads to account fatigue.
To me it seems the pros far outweigh the cons. Give people the option and make sure all options are clear and accessible.
You can always add a create a password option after people have entered their guest checkout information, so they have then have the choice to create an account with very limited effort. But there’s no point in forcing their hand. Otherwise they might be grumpy like me and call you out for it on social media.