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Welcome to this guide to gues… Oh wait hang on… You haven’t entered your email address….
Done? Great, now we can carry on. Welcome to this guide to guest checkouts, where we’ll take a look at best pract… hang on, your password isn’t valid, please try again.
Okay, great, let’s carry on… Hang on, have you already registered that email with us before? I’m sorry you can’t use that address if you’ve already registered it.
Guest checkouts! I love them. If it was at all possible I would carry out every transaction super quickly and utterly anonymously.
Last week our esteemed editor Graham Charlton compiled a list of the 11 best ecommerce checkouts in the world and in doing so came up with seven key features he felt were common to good practice.
These include speed, no forced registration and easy form filling. As far as I’m concerned having a guest checkout can cover all these things and more.
However, am I wrong about the glory of guest checkouts? Are there any drawbacks I’m not thinking of? Are there any best practice tips that can help ecommerce websites improve their guest checkouts?
Lets take a look. Wait, hang on, before we go any further, can you just enter your delivery address please…
Registration has benefits for both customers and retailers, but it can be perceived as a barrier by customers.
It needn't be a barrier though, and well designed checkouts can reduce customer abandonment while still encouraging people to register.
The key is to present web forms and order the process in such a way that it doesn't mean more effort for consumers. You can still have plenty of customers creating accounts.
Here are some examples...
Your customer has added items to their basket, clicked to proceed to checkout, so what should they see on the next page?
Well, since registration has been shown to be a barrier to conversion, they should see a page that takes an email address and eases them into the checkout proper.
But are sites doing this? Here are a few examples from ecommerce sites...
There are many considerations when harvesting the email address of your customer. How much information do you ask for? How hard do you push the sign-up? What do you include in a welcome email?
For luxury brands, the purchase decision is surely all about education and information. Giving those moneyed customers knowledge of new lines and must-haves will keep them returning, in fear they're missing out.
Most luxury brands sell 'lifetime' pieces, and so to hook the customer ahead of your competitors, every word of your comms should entice and exude the charm of a private members club.
Here's how some of the most searched for US luxury brands do email welcomes.
I'm not a regular visitor to Boots' website, so when I clicked on it recently, I was surprised that the number of usability issues and potential barriers to purchase I found.
The site does appear to be due a revamp, and there are plenty of areas for improvement where Boots could reduce customer friction.
Here, I've picked out some of the most serious issues, and what Boots can do to improve conversion rates on the site.
NB: I have no inside knowledge of Boots and its online performance. It may make a fortune online, but from what I know, there is lots of potential for improvement, so here we go...
If you’re a frequent web user it’s inevitable that you will at some point have been asked to login to a site using your Facebook ID.
It tends to be a popular option with publishers and content sites as it offers an easy way to expose their brand to a wider audience, however it’s not uncommon for ecommerce sites to ask customers to login using Facebook.
That said, ecommerce sites offering a Facebook login are still in the minority.
A study by Sociable Labs in September 2012 found that just 30 of the top 500 online retailers have implemented login with Facebook, which shows that the majority of ecommerce sites feel they are better off without it.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that a Facebook login option has no place in ecommerce. In fact, last year we published an infographic which showed that 40% of consumers prefer social logins over a guest account.
Making customers register before they checkout is a barrier to purchase, yet many online retailers have yet to learn this lesson.
The arguments against this barrier are compelling. For example, ASOS halved its abandonment rate at the registration page simply by removing any mention of creating an account.
In a more famous example from Jared Spool, one retailer added $300m to its annual revenues by removing the registration button.
These are lessons that HMV needs to learn in order to optimise conversion rates and reduce abandonments.
In an ideal world most, if not all, retailers would like their new customers to register when they place their first order, thus opening up the potential of a building a more meaningful long-term relationship with the customer.
Unfortunately most new customers want to avoid registering and just checkout as quickly as possible, so how can retailers encourage more registrations without deterring customers?
One of the problems that Matt found was the threat to lock users out of the site for 24 hours if questions were answered incorrectly, which is astonishing.
There are plenty more user experience crimes to be found on the site though, and if Playmobil wants to make the most of the online channel, then it should look into solving the following issues, if not redesigning the whole site...
While it may be a common security feature, masking passwords as users type them in may be causing login problems and lost business for websites, according to Jakob Nielsen.
Nielsen also argues that this isn't even necessary as a security feature, since users aren't normally overlooked when typing in passwords, while a determined snooper can simply watch your keystrokes anyway. I have my doubts though...
Asda.com was the third biggest supermarket online in terms of traffic in the most recent Hitwise Hot 100 list, but its site has been looking dated for a while and in need of a revamp.
However, the supermarket has recently launched a new version of Asda.com, and has revamped its grocery, financial and Asda Direct sections.
Having pointed out ten things that Asda could do better online last year, including navigation issues, and the way the site's different sections linked up, I've been looking at the new site to see if it has fixed some of these flaws...
Book retailer Borders has just redesigned its UK website, less than a year after last relaunching, and has also introduced a new range of eBooks.
There are some improvements, including new look product pages, more products displayed above the fold and clearer calls to action throughout the site.
There are a couple of issues on the site which hamper the user experience though...