Cyber Monday continues to set records for consumer ecommerce. Meanwhile, B2B ecommerce remains largely underdeveloped.
Essent is publishing a series of articles that examine how B2B ecommerce can perform more like B2C.
10 Areas to Improve
Deals and Promotions
Carts and Catalogs
Letting as many people as possible easily buy items from an ecommerce website is an obvious way to make that website more successful; the more people who can buy, the better.
Yet too many ecommerce websites place an unnecessary, conversion-killing barrier into the checkout process: Mandatory, pre-sale account registration. Studies and surveys show that mandatory pre-sale account registration – or, put another way, the lack of guest checkout -- will increase cart abandonment.
So customers who entered the checkout process fully intending to make a purchase actually wind up buying nothing – and also leave with a sour taste in their mouth that makes them unlikely to return. All because the ecommerce store required registration instead of simply offering guest checkout.
Guest checkout allows an ecommerce customer to make a purchase without a user Login or Password – without an account. So customers who want avoid the hassle of registering or are hesitant to part with data can buy from you anyway. Guest checkout removes one of the biggest barriers to conversions.
Ecommerce websites don’t even need pre-sale registration to get the customer information it’s intended to get. It’s easy to finish the sale via guest checkout and then go for the registration -- after the sale is already in the books.
One reason a lack of guest checkout suppresses ecommerce conversions is that would-be buyers, purchasing agents or procurement specialists can become wary of parting with personally identifiable information.
Others might become fatigued or overwhelmed by filling in too many fields or pages, especially on mobile. Others will worry that providing the data will lead to unwanted re-marketing emails later.
A number of studies have shown the advantages of guest checkout and the detriment of required regisration, especially on mobile devices where thumbing in data is a greater chore.
One study suggested as many as 1 in 4 would-be customers will abandon a cart if registration is required. Another found that lack of guest checkout is the third most common cause for abandonment behind shipping surprises and unready buyers. Another shows that two-thirds of the top 100 retail sites offer guest checkout, and that the majority of mobile revenue comes from guest checkout.
The merchant wants authenticated checkout for future marketing, starting with abandoned cart notices and continuing with periodic offers. For the sake of the customer, you really want the best of both worlds where the buyer can checkout as a guest and later receive the option to turn the guest account into an authenticated account.
Roughly 2 out of every 3 ecommerce carts are abandoned, so eliminating barriers in the checkout process is pivotal to driving more sales.
Some B2B ecommerce relationships make guest checkout impossible.
For example, the buyer, procurement specialist or purchasing agent -- especially in the case of corporate customers – could be bound by cost center rules established between the buyer organization and the seller organization. Similarly, B2B trading partners might have pricing dictated by other contract terms.
Guest checkout isn’t an option in these situations. It isn’t needed, anyway, since the cost center or contract arrangement should already include all the customer details.
In normal transactions, however, guest checkout should be an option to prevent the high rates of abandonment cited above. Roughly 2 out of every 3 ecommerce carts are abandoned, so eliminating barriers in the checkout process is pivotal to driving more sales.
Online stores can simply provide guest checkout, then provide the opportunity for registration after the sale is completed.
It’s not necessary to make buyers register before the sale.
Online stores can simply provide guest checkout, then provide the opportunity for registration after the sale is completed. (And, yes, it can be called an opportunity now because it’s no longer a mandatory barrier to sale).
Buyers already submit their name, email address, shipping and billing addresses and more information in the course of any checkout, whether it’s a guest checkout or otherwise. So the ecommerce website can simply use that data to provide a pre-populated form after the sale.
Then the customer just needs to create a password. Once she does, the registration is completed -- instantly, non-intrusively and with no barrier to sale. The ecommerce website can even provide an incentive to register, like 20 percent off the next sale, making it a true opportunity.
8 of the top 10 U.S. consumer ecommerce sites offer guest checkout. And it shouldn’t be a surprise why they do.
8 of the top 10 U.S. consumer ecommerce sites offer guest checkout. And it shouldn’t be a surprise why they do. (The bigger surprise is that 2 of the top 10 don’t offer guest checkout.)
Forced pre-sale registrations are a proven conversion killer, chasing away 25% or more of would be buyers. Making matters worse is that customers frustrated by mandatory registration likely won’t be back.
B2B ecommerce includes contract and cost-center arrangements that take guest checkout out of the equation. But B2B ecommerce sites should otherwise offer guest checkout. Eliminating the checkout barrier can significantly decrease abandonment rates and increase sales.
Stores don’t need to abandon registrations. They can simply offer guest checkout and then the opportunity to register. The most important part is not making registration a barrier to sale.
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Essent is the leading provider of fully-integrated business management software solutions and services for process-intensive industries and the largest trading network for the promotional products industry. The Essent family of fully-integrated products and services combines best practices, business processes, software automation, and network communications to deliver unparalleled, unified business management solutions. Since 1980, Essent has offered the systems, service, software, and support critical to success in today's highly-competitive marketplace.