Guest Checkout vs. Customer Accounts: What Online Sellers Need to Know

We take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of customer accounts and guest checkout in ecommerce.

By Vanessa Loughty | December 20, 2022 | 5 minute read



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Wondering about the pros and cons of offering guest checkout on your website? In this article, we take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of guest checkout vs. customer accounts to help you decide what’s best for your business and customers. 

What is Guest Checkout?

We’ve all been there. You’ve got a full cart, you’re ready to make a purchase, and…the website you’re shopping on asks you to create an account with them. Not ANOTHER account to keep track of…

This is where the “Checkout as Guest” button comes in to save the day.

With guest checkout, shoppers can complete their purchases without having to create an account. This makes guest checkout a convenient option for many shoppers, as it allows them to quickly purchase items without having to go through the hassle of setting up an account. This convenience has made guest checkout a wildly popular option among consumers, with a 2022 survey by Capterra finding that 43% prefer using guest checkout to logging in with a social profile or creating an account on an ecommerce website.

However, some could argue that guest checkout may be detrimental to online businesses in the long run, as it can be less effective at encouraging repeat purchases. Requiring customers to create an account on a website can help merchants build stronger relationships with their customers and increase customer loyalty over time.

Ultimately, the choice between promoting guest checkout or customer accounts is up to individual merchants and depends on their unique needs and preferences. Some merchants may find that emphasizing guest checkout options on their website is the best option for their business, while others may decide that encouraging shoppers to create customer accounts is the better move. 

Pros and Cons of Guest Checkout

Pros: Guest checkout is a convenient option for many shoppers, as it allows them to quickly purchase items without having to set up an account or provide any personal information—something that many shoppers greatly appreciate. This makes guest checkout an attractive choice for shoppers who simply want to make a quick purchase and don't have time or interest in creating an account with the merchant.

Cons: Guest checkout can be problematic for merchants, as it does not give merchants the means to encourage repeat purchases like customer accounts can. By encouraging customers to create accounts with their site, merchants can gain the data and communication avenues needed to build stronger relationships with their customers and encourage increased customer engagement and loyalty. Therefore, guest checkout may not be the best option for all merchantsNew call-to-action

Pros and Cons of Customer Accounts in Ecommerce

Pros: Customer accounts offer many benefits to merchants, allowing them to build stronger relationships with their customers and encourage increased customer engagement and loyalty over time. This can be especially beneficial for merchants who sell products or services that require ongoing support or maintenance. An aftermarket parts manufacturer may, for example, require the creation of customer accounts with initial purchases so they can use customer information to make informed recommendations about maintenance and parts for their customers’ specific vehicles. 

Cons: There are some potential drawbacks to using customer accounts in ecommerce. Requiring customers to create accounts can result in higher drop-off rates and lower conversion rates—a review of checkout abandonment data from 90,000 brands found that mandatory account creation is a major driver of purchase abandonment.. 

Using Guest Checkout in B2B Ecommerce

While guest checkout is a convenient option for many B2C ecommerce shoppers, it is also an attractive choice for business buyers that can help reduce friction in the buying process.

However, there are also some potential downsides to using guest checkout in B2B ecommerce. For example, guest checkouts may not be ideal for merchants who are looking to foster long-term customer relationships and build loyalty among their buyers.

Optimizing Your Guest Checkout for Repeat Business

If you are using guest checkout in your ecommerce business, there are several strategies that you can use to optimize this process and encourage repeat purchases from your customers. These might include offering incentives like discounts or free shipping to customers who make repeat purchases, working to build strong relationships with key buyers through personalized outreach or loyalty programs, and providing high-quality customer support to resolve any issues or concerns that may arise. By focusing on these factors, you can help ensure that guest checkouts result in increased engagement and loyalty over time.

Ready for a deep dive into ecommerce checkout strategy? Check out our analysis of one-page versus multi-step checkouts to see which one is right for your business.

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Author's Bio

Vanessa Loughty

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