Test and implement these guest checkout tactics to reduce cart abandonment, grow ecommerce sales and conversion rates, and have your customers complete the purchase.

As a customer, do you really want to create an account for every single website you interact with? Absolutely not. On the other hand, if you are a customer, you want these online retailers to know who you are. This is why a website without a guest checkout is regarded as a “conversion killer”.

Having a guest checkout is one way to keep people from leaving your ecommerce site before they buy.

You may be worried about losing that connection with the customer. But don’t fear. If you implement some of these guest checkout ideas, you will be able to continue the conversation – even if they say they can’t stay for long as of now.

Let’s review these guest checkout tactics to help us grow sales and improve the user experience. It’s jam-packed with examples and ideas from a group of top US ecommerce sites we evaluated to illustrate this article.

Guest Checkout Tactics: What can I do to increase my ecommerce conversion rates?

34% of the users in a Baymard Institute study abandoned an order because they were not offered an ecommerce guest checkout option.

Guest checkouts are an increasingly standard feature of most ecommerce sites today. But what sets the real winners apart is the checkout experience or the finesse with which they give the customer a choice between registering and proceeding as a guest.

If we ignore the segment of visitors that are “just browsing”, and look at the remaining reasons for abandonments, we get the above distribution. Source: Baymard Institute cart abandonment rate statistics.

Baymard Institute cart abandonment rate statistics.

If we ignore the segment of visitors that are “just browsing”, and look at the remaining reasons for abandoned carts, we get the above distribution. Source: Baymard Institute cart abandonment rate statistics.

1. Create account after purchase

Ironically, the only bit of additional information an ecommerce site needs is a password to create an account. Anyone paying with a credit card is providing their name, and it is standard practice to provide an email address for receipts and order updates.

Allow guest shoppers to create an account after the purchase is complete. Most of the information will have been filled in, and it would probably be a matter of adding a couple of fields. This will certainly help raise conversion rates, and may have only a small impact on the number of accounts your customers create.

Did you know that your customers are more likely to create an account after they purchase? This may seem counter-intuitive, the best time to ask someone to do something for you is right after they’ve purchased. They like you more because they chose you.

If you want to take it a step further, offer a guest checkout only and tell them they can create an account later, if they so desire.

Victoria’s Secret secret (and subtle) approach to account creation. Guest checkout tactics to grow ecommerce sales.

Victoria’s Secret secret (and subtle) approach to account creation.

2. Express payment options or social signups

A good way to complement a guest checkout, which will also save time filling out forms, is to offer a social signup or PayPal as the payment method. Notice how your customers can then go through the checkout without having to enter lots of details.

Not only will these options make for a smooth checkout UX, they will have a big impact on mobile checkout rates. No matter how short you make your forms, nothing beats a pre-filled option, especially when you are doing it on your phone.

Be careful, though. Not everyone trusts ecommerce websites with their social data. Thanks, Cambridge Analytica. Instead of “Login with LinkedIn”, try language like “Auto-fill from LinkedIn.”

Add this AB test to your mobile conversion optimization list, and see if you can grow the number of completed orders with express sign-ups.

3. Save your details for the next time

The smartest ecommerce sites give visitors clear reasons for creating an account at the time of purchase. They know repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers.

Of all the guest checkout tactics, this is the one I favor the most. Nothing pushy about signing up for an account or registering for future savings. Just a plain “would you like to save your details for the next time?” Why not? If I enjoy your products, I will definitely be coming back to your shop.

Do you offer a customer loyalty program? Well, there’s no better time to promote the incredible benefits of your program than right after a purchase.

Conversion Sciences Pro Tip: Craft a special exit-intent pop-up on your thank-you page that invites your new customer to enjoy the benefits of having an account. An exit-intent popup appears when the visitor is about to leave your site. This is a good time to offer something like, “Let us save your details and earn loyalty points.”

4. Should you Visually Prioritize the Guest Checkout?

If you offer guest checkouts, the majority of checkouts may be from non-registered customers. We noticed that most online shops we looked at visually prioritize the user sign-in — for visitors that already have an account — over the ecommerce guest checkout. Nordstrom and Victoria’s Secret are the exceptions.

Nordstrom.com prioritizes the guest checkout over the account creation by placing it on the left. Plus, add to cart compliments the shopper’s taste. We like little touches like this.

Nordstrom.com prioritizes the guest checkout over the sing in and account creation form by placing it on the left. Plus, add to cart compliments the shopper’s taste. We like little touches like this.

Nordstrom's Added to Bag message immediately engages with the buyer.

Nordstrom’s Added to Bag message immediately engages with the buyer.

Guest checkout visual prioritization. Victoria’s Secret puts returning customers first with a bright pink Sign In button.

Victoria’s Secret puts returning customers first with a bright pink Sign In button.

We will perform a mobile checkout best practices study in a future article.

If you do not prioritize guest checkout over account creation, this option may be visually invisible, especially to mobile shoppers where guest checkout will be stacked below account creation.

Yes, we want returning customers to use their account. It makes buying easier and reduces checkout abandonment. But the guest checkout should have a higher conversion rate. If it is hard to see, sales may suffer. This is a great area to test and optimize for conversions.

5. No account? Let me give you a cookie

Recognize your returning customers and help them buy your products. Cookies enable online stores to personalize and simplify the shopping experience to a whole new level. Some ecommerce sites, like Walmart, use cookies to recognize returning customers. Their use of persistent cookies provides convenient and rapid access to previous searches and preferences, and in Walmart’s case, that includes last year’s shopping cart.

Some ecommerce sites, like Walmart, use cookies to recognize returning customers. Their use of persistent cookies provides convenient and rapid access to previous searches and preferences, and in Walmart’s case, that includes last year’s shopping cart!

Walmart has kept my shopping cart for about a year.

Add a Final Submission Confirmation or a Review Order Page

The worst e-retailer scenario for an order without an account is the lack of flexibility or options in case of cancellations, refunds, returns, etc. Adding a final review order page with confirmation before its submission will allow you to warn the customer about these risks and offer them a simple way to create an account on the spot.

6. Offer a Newsletter Opt-In Option on Checkout Pages

If your marketing department’s biggest concern is keeping in touch with newly-acquired shoppers, a simple opt-in to your newsletter will suffice. Visitors have to actively opt-in, so you have to make it worth their while to let you into their inboxes. Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

If your marketer’s biggest concern is keeping in touch with newly-acquired shoppers, a simple opt-in to your newsletter will suffice. Be our guest, but why not give us your email address for a chance to win a $10K shopping spree at Blue Nile?

Be our guest, but why not give us your email address for a chance to win a $10K shopping spree at Blue Nile?

7. Best ecommerce guest checkout tactics to increase conversions: AB test

If you are not sure about providing a guest checkout, AB test it.

You can answer these questions with an AB test:

Do fewer people leave the site on the “Create Account” page if there is a guest checkout? If so, how many?

How many will people create an account after the sale vs. before checkout?

Is there an increase in purchase transactions with the guest checkout? If so, how big?

Is there an increase in revenue with the guest checkout? If so, how much?

Do more visitors sign in if I make the “Sign In” button more visible? Does it increase checkout abandonment?

NOTE: When we talk about “Abandonment” there are two ways to measure this.

  1. Cart Abandonment is the number of people who add a product to their cart, but do not buy. Cart Abandonment = (Visits with Add to Cart – Completed Transactions) / Add to Cart
  2. Checkout Abandonment is the number of people who click the “Checkout” button, but do no complete the checkout. Checkout Abandonment = (Visits who Click Checkout – Completed Transactions) / Visits who Click Checkout

We setup this kind of tracking for all of our ecommerce clients.

Read more about our ecommerce optimization solutions

Ecommerce Guest Checkout Examples and Ideas

Of all the ecommerce retailer websites we examined for our micro-study, most offered a guest checkout. Those that did not include Amazon, Target, Costco and Chewy. If your site has subscription sales, consider adding a guest checkout. It may seem counter-intuitive to you, and it is something you should definitely test.

Wayfair has no guest checkout, but you can make checkout faster if you have a Paypal account. A shopper only needs an email address to create an account.

American Eagle Outfitters

American Eagle Outfitters’ shopping bag design is packed with neatly organized promos and many reasons why you should open your account.

American Eagle Outfitters’ shopping bag design is packed with neatly organized promos and many reasons why you should open your account.

Single page guest checkout from AEO. It maintains the look of their shopping bag and no steps are hidden from view. They could test splitting the process up to see if conversions increase.

Single page guest checkout from AEO. It maintains the look of their shopping bag and no steps are hidden from view. They could test splitting the process up to see if conversions increase.

Barnes & Noble ecommerce checkout process

A no-pressure approach on the B&N checkout design flow. Their priority is memberships. The guest checkout process has multiple steps, but you get several opportunities for an express checkout.

Barnes & Noble ecommerce checkout process. Barnes & Noble doesn't prioritize a free account here. Because they sell a Membership. They make the checkout process as easy as possible with express checkout and later on a social sign in.

Barnes & Noble doesn’t prioritize a free account here. Because they sell a Membership. They make the checkout process as easy as possible with express checkout and later on a social sign in.

At Barnes & Noble, returning customers have priority at checkout - with an account or social sign in – then finally a guest option. Unfortunately there is no clear place to create an account at this step in their checkout flow.

Returning customers have priority at checkout – with an account or social sign in – then finally a guest option. Unfortunately there is no clear place to create an account at this step in their checkout flow.

Barnes & Noble guest checkout.

Barnes & Noble guest checkout.

Etsy Guest Checkout

Etsy makes the “Continue as a guest” button a low priority visually — we call this a “ghost button” — and makes the “Sign in or register” option visually significant with the high-contrast, black “Continue” button.

Social checkout or continue as a guest on Etsy. A simple 2-step checkout process.

Social checkout or continue as a guest on Etsy. A simple 2-step checkout process.

Apple Cart Page and Checkout

Since so many Apple customers already have an Apple ID, it makes sense for Apple to give the “Checkout with Apple ID” option the more prominent, left-most position over the Guest Checkout.

Returning customers first, and in case you don’t remember, the format of an Apple ID.

Returning customers first, and in case you don’t remember, the format of an Apple ID.

Apple checkout tactics to reduce cart abandonment. Does the likelihood of abandoning the cart decrease if you know when your order is arriving? We think so. You should try it.

Does the likelihood of abandoning the cart decrease if you know when your order is arriving? We think so. You should try it.

Apple simplified checkout flow. Pre-filled information and a simplified checkout flow. Be creative and persuasive when naming your shopping basket sections. “Where should we send your order?” is more personal and inviting than “Shipping details”.

Apple simplified checkout flow.

Apple provides pre-filled information and a simplified checkout flow. Be creative and persuasive when naming your shopping basket sections. “Where should we send your order?” is more personal and inviting than “Shipping details”.

Kohl’s Guest Checkout Flow

Kohl’s offers a smooth guest checkout process with many options, and shoppers can create an account after checkout.

Kohl's strategic partnership with Amazon, processing their returns, drives more traffic to the brick and mortar stores.

Kohl’s strategic partnership with Amazon, processing their returns, drives more traffic to the brick and mortar stores.

Kohl's guest checkout flow.

Kohl’s guest checkout flow.

Newegg

Shopping flow is pretty distracting, with cross sells, upsells and financing offers. But they offer several ways for a fast checkout – Amex express checkout, Paypal checkout and Masterpass plus guest checkout. The Guest checkout bears a FOMO message and a progress bar with four steps to complete the process. I guess they are trying to discourage this route.

Newegg ecommerce checkout process.

Newegg ecommerce checkout process.

Lowe’s 2-Step Guest Checkout Flow

Lowe’s prioritizes the Sign-in by placing it on the left. Like Apple, they may have a large number of repeat buyers with accounts.

Lowe's 2-step guest checkout design and flow.

Lowe’s guest checkout design and flow.

Conversion Sciences Pro Tip: Adding a status bar to your checkout often decreases abandonment rates.

Walmart Super Smooth Guest Checkout

Walmart incentivizes its coupon-happy shoppers to create an account by requiring it in order to use a discount code. This could have a negative affect on some shoppers, so AB test guest checkout tactics like this.

Walmart guest checkout tactics.

Walmart guest checkout tactics.

So, get ready to AB test these guest checkout tactics and your checkout flow to increase sales.

More Resources:

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