Customer accounts for your online store

Integrating customer accounts to your online shop could help you increase your store’s conversion rate and create returning customers. Depending on your store type and products, it may be beneficial to ask customers to create an account on your website. Deciding whether your online shop should require an account upon checkout can be determined using some simple criteria. Is your customer likely to repeat an order? If so, how frequently? What is the overall benefit to the customer?

In this post, we will outline some basic guidelines you should consider before enabling customer accounts on your online shop.

Guest checkout or account checkout

First, let’s start by describing the difference between guest and account checkout. Guest checkout is when an online shop allows customers to complete purchases on their website without creating an account. The customer is still required to enter some basic information to complete the order, but the information is not stored for reuse.

In contrast, account checkout requires shoppers to sign up for an account on the website as a prerequisite for ordering. The customer’s order details are stored on the database. The information saved on the website can be helpful when customers return to your online shop. It facilitates ordering, payment, and it offers other benefits which we will elaborate on further in this article.

Should you enable account checkout?

Online stores are increasingly requiring shoppers to sign up for an account to their website. Customers are suffering from new account fatigue, and it could mean bad news for your online shop. Any feature on your online shop should serve to add value and enhance customer experience while also contributing to generating revenue for your business. Before implementing account checkout on your online store, consider the following:

  • Products

An online store offering highly customizable or personalized products may find it beneficial to enable customer accounts. It allows customers to easily reorder, keep track of their order, and reference products purchased in the past. For simple stores offering products with no customization, color variations only, and unlikely to be reordered, an account might not be necessary. If this is the case, enable optional registration and if your customers foresee frequent purchases from your store, they might sign up anyway.

  • How about order frequency and reorders?

Another reason why you might consider requiring customers to sign up to your website could be reorders. Depending on your store’s niche, customers may be inclined to return to your website for future purchases. In which case, it may be beneficial to offer the option of a customer account to make ordering in the future simple.

  • Returns, exchanges, and refunds

If the products on your online shop are likely to be returned, then an account checkout system could simplify the process. For example, online clothing shops are expected to experience a high rate of returns and exchanges. Clothing items vary greatly in color, style, and fitting which means customers may want to return multiple items which don’t fit or look as expected.

Requesting an exchange or refund using guest checkout can be time consuming and cumbersome, especially when returns are frequent. Account checkout programs will make it easier for customers to request a refund. It can be as simple as logging in and clicking a button. 

  • Subscriptions, wish lists, and loyalty programs

Online shops with subscription business models may need accounts for their customers to manage their subscriptions. Account checkout will give subscribers access to change their delivery address, upgrade their membership plan, and pause/cancel their subscription. It could also grant them access to customer exclusive content, customer service, or other offers.

Customer accounts on your online shop can provide a much deeper, strategic value for your business. It serves as a convenient way to implement and track loyalty programs. Marketing perks like discounts or rewards can be saved on a user’s account to be redeemed on future purchases. It’s an easy way for customers to keep track of their rewards.

Wish lists allow a user to “save” items for purchase at a later date and share the list with friends and family. If you want to employ a wishlist in your marketing strategy, it makes sense to encourage customers to sign up for an account. Although wish list extensions usually do support unregistered customers, the lists are only stored for a short period of time.

  • Reviewing, modifying, and tracking orders

In some cases, it’s advantageous to implement account checkout to facilitate reviewing and modifying orders. Customers may find it helpful to have a platform where they can view and track their order.

How to enable guest checkout on WooCommerce?

  1. Go to the WooCommerce dashboard and click on WooCommerce > Settings > Accounts & Privacy.
  2. Scroll down to Guest checkout and click on Allow customers to place orders without an account which will activate the guest checkout feature on your online shop.

Options in the Accounts & Privacy tab allow you to fully customize your account checkout strategy. WooCommerce lets you choose how long you want to retain customer’s personal data such as pending orders, inactive accounts, among other capabilities.

Present it as a benefit

The key to success of any call-to-action campaign is to showcase the benefits to the consumer. Framing account registration as a valuable benefit will remove the barrier for potential new users. Present the immediate and long-term perks of being a registered customer.

It’s also important to explain what it means not to have an account. Fear of missing out is usually a great motivator in any campaign. For instance, notify customers that without an account, their reward points will be lost. Nudge customers to sign up by highlighting the ease of use and don’t forget to mention fast turnaround times. Always be transparent about how you intend to use the account information and protect your customer’s privacy.

Final thoughts

In the world of ecommerce, the idea of requiring customers to do anything could be perceived as a barrier that can annoy shoppers and drive them away. The reality is that for some online shops it makes sense to implement an account checkout. It adds extra functionalities which make it simple to process and keep track of customer orders, discounts, and coupons. Note that every online shop is different and enabling guest checkout is highly dependent on your products, customer purchase frequency, and your marketing strategy.

Generate revenue for your online shop using plugins

Plugins can be powerful tools to help you increase your store’s reach, build customer trust, manage your inventory, and optimize payments on your website. Woosa offers high quality and cost effective plugins for your online shop. We can help you develop a plugin tailored to your needs. Reach out to us for more information.