Should You Enable Guest Checkout in WooCommerce?

Enabling guest checkout in WooCommerce is a great way to reduce friction and abandonment rates, but is it the best option for your store?

The largest eCommerce retailer in the world, Amazon, does not offer guest checkout. Here’s what you see when you try to checkout without being signed in:

Amazon has learned that making the checkout process a little harder the first time is worth it to encourage customers to come back. This may or may not be true for you. We don’t all have stores like Amazon, so we shouldn’t always imitate them.

Clearly we need to make it easy for customers to checkout, even if they do not already have an account. According to Baymard Institute user tests, when account creation was difficult “14% of users were unable to figure out the checkout step and ended up abandoning the site.”

Toms prominently displays the guest checkout option

What is more important, reducing abandonment, or encouraging return business by forcing account creation? That’s for you to decide. We may be able to get the best of both worlds by automating or delaying account creation, or we can choose to enable guest checkout.

Enable Guest Checkout in WooCommerce

Allowing customers to order without creating an account is easy and free with WooCommerce.

Go to WooCommerce => Settings => Accounts and Privacy and review your settings there. Make sure “Allow customers to place orders without an account” is checked, as long as your store works without an account.

This works great if you don’t need any customer information, but what if they need to login to their account page to download a file or view confidential order information? They will need to create an account.

We don’t want to force customers to create an account during checkout, because that leads to cart abandonment. That leads us to our next option.

Automatic Account Creation

Instead of making customers create their own account information, WooCommerce can automatically create an account for them. This is a great option if you need customers to have an account, but you also want to make it easy for them to purchase.

To enable automatic account create, go to WooCommerce => Settings => Accounts and Privacy, and check the two boxes below.

Under Account creation, check “When creating an account, automatically generate an account username for the customer based on their name, surname, or email” and “When creating an account, automatically generate an account password.”

Your customer will receive an email with their account information after their purchase. They will not be able to change their username, but they can change their password.

If you want to let customers choose their username and password, this won’t be the best option. Instead, you should allow them to create their account after they checkout.

Post Checkout Registration

Another option is to allow customers to create their account after purchase. This is called delayed account creation, or post checkout registration.

To do this with WooCommerce, go to WooCommerce => Settings => Accounts and Privacy, and check the box below.

Check “Allow customers to create an account on the My Account page.” You also need to enable guest checkout, as described earlier in this article. Now your customers can checkout without creating an account, and create an account on the My account page after their purchase.

Tip: No matter when you require account creation, keep password requirements simple at first. Baymard Institute says that “extensive and strict password rules can cause up to an 18.75% checkout-abandonment rate.” If security is a concern, force users to change their passwords to something stronger within 48 hours.WordPress does not require strong passwords by default, so if you have a security plugin just make sure you don’t get too crazy with the password requirements.

Optimize Account Creation to Improve Checkout Conversion Rates

The point of the these account registration options is to make it easier for customers to checkout, which should improve your checkout conversion rate.

Enabling guest checkout, automating, or delaying account creation does a couple of things. It removes 2 fields from your checkout page, which makes your payment process less intimidating. It also removes the mental effort required to think of a username and a password, which reduces frustration levels.

It may not seem like much, but it’s easy to fix, and every little bit helps.

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