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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On one of the web site developer forums I subscribe to, there is currently much talk about compulsory customer registration on sites being a bad thing.

Most sites require you to register when you make a purchase. This gives you access to online order tracking and allows you to see your order history etc. On the plus side it also allows you to re-order with just an email address and password, instead of having to put all your details on there again. On the negative side, it has been suggested that this compulsory registration can put some customers off.

I was wondering what thoughts some of the people on here have about compulsory customer registration pages. Do you find it deters you from dealing with those sites and would you prefer sites that just checkout the contents of the cart direct to PayPal or similar?

I know the checkout process on sites is often given very little thought, even though in reality, it's the ultimate stage in allowing customers to actually buy your product.

Your thoughts on this topic, as always, would be greatly appreciated. :)
 

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I was wondering what thoughts some of the people on here have about compulsory customer registration pages.
"Mandatory" registration is a turnoff for me. Especially on smaller sites that I don't know if I should trust or not. It also bothers me (depending on their implementation) because it takes up more of my time.

Some sites won't show you shipping prices until you login. This makes me go somewhere else.

Some sites won't let you get to the payment page without logging in. This makes me want to go somewhere else.

You deter "impulse buys" when you slow down the checkout process by making someone think up a username/login. Creates unnecessary complication for people giving you money.

Yes, I login at amazon to buy, but they are amazon (not joes cool t-shirt shop), and I plan on purchasing a lot from them since they offer a lot.

Yes, I login at threadless to buy, but they are threadless, and the login is also part of a "profile" as part of their "community". They also don't "require" that you login to make a purchase there as a new customer.

Do you find it deters you from dealing with those sites and would you prefer sites that just checkout the contents of the cart direct to PayPal or similar?
Part of it depends on how the site presents itself. If the site has nice t-shirt designs, but it poorly designed and looks unprofessional, I might think that the owner is not very serious about their business and they may not have the same business etiquette that I do. If I see a site that looks thrown together, I get very iffy about giving them my information and I prefer if they have a PayPal checkout so I pass as little information as possible to them. Other things like a private domain name registration, no contact info on the site, also make me trust the site less and deter me from wanting to use their registration system.

So if it's "required" meaning can't checkout, can't get shipping options otherwise, yes, it's a big turnoff.

If it's "optional", meaning you can if you as the consumer think you'll be shopping with them again or they put it at the END of the checkout process so you can still buy first and register later, it goes over much better in my opinion.
 

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I generally don't mind having to register if I am in the process of a purchase. If I am given the choice of registering or to purchase without registering, I always choose not to register. But overall it makes no big difference to me.
 

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I agree with the sentiments so far...

It all depends whether I think I will purchase at that same store again, if yes then I will register, if not then no.

Personally, we offer Guest (no registration) checkout on our site along with registering, we also quote on freight before getting to the checkout i.e. the user can quote their freight in the shopping cart. However, the difference between registering and not registering on our site in terms of data entry is 2 fields, email and password. Everyone still has to enter their name and delivery details regardless of of registering or not.

The other aspect is that not all ecommerce systems offer a non-registered checkout process.

Hope this helps
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
However, the difference between registering and not registering on our site in terms of data entry is 2 fields, email and password. Everyone still has to enter their name and delivery details regardless of of registering or not.

The other aspect is that not all ecommerce systems offer a non-registered checkout process.
Both Cubecart and Zen-Cart offer a third party solution to bypassing the compulsory customer registration process, but as Jono indicated, the only difference is deleting a couple of fields. In effect you are still having to register, to be able to checkout and buy your products. Same goes for the bulk of commercial products out there.

Assuming that your chosen payment gateway already has all your details, to have to fill them out all over again on a site is a real pain. I particularly dislike having to give my phone number out when I am purchasing online, as it can leave you open to unwanted telemarketing.

Depending on how your cart is structured and if someone is paying through a payment gateway, I would suggest that the only two fields that a site owner should realistically request, are country for working out international shipping and perhaps an email address, so they can track your order and be able to send their own order acknowledgement.

My own sites don't even ask for that, as the shipping options are presented to them on the checkout page, via radio buttons for different geographical regions. The payment gateway provides their email together with address details. They also have the option to specify a separate delivery address through the payment gateway site.

I am a great believer in the 'fewer clicks to buy equates to lower cart abandonment' theory. Zen-cart is due to release version 1.4 soon and it has been indicated by the developers, that this will offer a quick checkout option, that bypasses customer registration. This has been a failing of both Zen-cart and Cubecart for a long time now. There are things like PayPal Express and Google quick checkouts, but these are incapable of working out the shipping BEFORE you are directed to their logins.

Other folks thought on this topic are more than welcome. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Found this information out, which was the only factual account I could find as to why folks don't complete the checkout process. Hope it will be of use to people designing their own checkout process.


Know These Top Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment
This example is filled with some of the top reasons why visitors to your website may abandon their shopping carts. A recent study by Vividence Corporation, a Customer Experience Management company, reported the most significant reasons for Internet shopping cart abandonment are:
  • High shipping prices or long delivery times
  • Comparison shopping and browsing
  • Changed Mind
  • Total cost of items is too high
  • Checkout process is too long
  • Checkout requires too much personal information
  • Site requires registration before purchase
  • Site is unstable or unreliable
  • Checkout process is confusing
 

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Depending on how bad I wanted it would determine if i logged in. Generally I dont like to register to buy stuff. If I was casually browsing and saw something I like but had to register I probably wouldnt take the time.

Only if it was something that I needed and wanted would I take the time to register.

My 2 cents.
 

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I don't think it should be required. However, I've seen sites that give you the option to sign up AFTER you're done with your purchase because they offer deals, wishlists, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The trouble lies with the shopping cart software itself and the developers that produce it. With perhaps the exception of PayPal Express and Google Checkout, there are very few physical ways to bypass the registration pages of many existing shopping carts.

It is usually the structure of the cart, rather than any intent by a web site owner, that forces customers to register. Many of the sites that are put up here on the forums for critique have required registration pages, before you can purchase.

To give you an example of how a registration page can be abused, I recently came to buy supplies for my own business, from an established mainstream suppler I hadn't dealt with before. I added the items to my cart, then I went through all the registration pages and filled in all my details. I clicked the payment link, only to be greeted by a page that stated all my details had been recorded and someone would contact me by phone to take my order. The follow on from that being they claimed to have a minimum order value (not mentioned anywhere on their site), a promised catalogue I had to chase and two intrusive follow on phone calls since then. I wouldn't deal with them as I don't like their business ethics.
 

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Both Cubecart and Zen-Cart offer a third party solution to bypassing the compulsory customer registration process
I'm pretty sure CC version 4 offers the option of checkout without registration. You could even edit the template to not even show the registration option if you wanted to really streamline things.

To give you an example of how a registration page can be abused, I recently came to buy supplies for my own business, from an established mainstream suppler I hadn't dealt with before. I added the items to my cart, then I went through all the registration pages and filled in all my details. I clicked the payment link, only to be greeted by a page that stated all my details had been recorded and someone would contact me by phone to take my order. The follow on from that being they claimed to have a minimum order value (not mentioned anywhere on their site), a promised catalogue I had to chase and two intrusive follow on phone calls since then.
Sometimes I wonder about company's like that. It's almost like they want to be on the internet, but not really. I think some companies aren't really convinced/committed on the viability of ecommerce sales. Or they feel that they may lose money because they don't get to sell the customer on the phone. Or they may not want to deal with email (it is pretty time consuming). But that's a great example of how "not" to run an ecommerce site :)
 

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I don't think it should be required. However, I've seen sites that give you the option to sign up AFTER you're done with your purchase because they offer deals, wishlists, etc.
I like this option best, because it doesn't force the buyer into anything. They make their purchase, and you mention as an "upselling" venture 'Oh, by the way! Would you like to join our site so we can send you special offers, and have an easier checkout process if you visit us again?'

Personally, I do not like giving more information than is needed to a website - Especially my phone number. People hate spam .. a lot. Almost as much as pop ups.

Though it is important to get a working e-mail from them in case something goes wrong with their order.

The process where people give you their money should be very simple, in clear terms, secure, and a pleasant experience. I hate businesses where I have to jump through hoops just to give them money! LOL

Tabz
 

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I absolutely hate being forced to register. It's just one of those things that bugs me. I can't tell you how many times I've been ready to purchase from a site and completely changed my mind when I realized I must register to make the purchase. I find it even more annoying to have to register just to VIEW the site (or just to view prices - unless it's a wholesaler, in which case I understand the reasoning). It's just aggravating to me. I prefer being given the choice and will generally register if I plan to shop the site in the future.
 

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Found this information out, which was the only factual account I could find as to why folks don't complete the checkout process. Hope it will be of use to people designing their own checkout process.


Know These Top Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment

This example is filled with some of the top reasons why visitors to your website may abandon their shopping carts. A recent study by Vividence Corporation, a Customer Experience Management company, reported the most significant reasons for Internet shopping cart abandonment are:
  • High shipping prices or long delivery times
  • Comparison shopping and browsing
  • Changed Mind
  • Total cost of items is too high
  • Checkout process is too long
  • Checkout requires too much personal information
  • Site requires registration before purchase
  • Site is unstable or unreliable
  • Checkout process is confusing

I can see those are 'good" points, but 99% of clothing sites I go to (such as TAPOUT, Ed Hardy, etc) all have shopping carts and member registration. It is not required to make a purchase however.

To be honest, if some of the biggest companies are doing it, I find it hard not to follow. I understand there are major differences in big companies and startups, but I dont see a shopping cart being one of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I think the problem is one of perceived trust. Identity theft is a global problem nowadays and many of these sites ask for information that not everyone wants to give out.

A big business is likely to have your details stored somewhere safe, typically with 24 hour manned security. A small business operating from home, or small shop presents a much higher risk of your details being compromised.
 
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