To Register or Not to Register? That Is the Question.

Anyone who has purchased an item online has gone through the experience of registering an account on an ecommerce website. But is registration really a good policy? Do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages?

Benefits of Having Customer Register on Ecommerce Sites

There are many reasons ecommerce retailers either require or encourage customers to register. For instance, registering online:

  • Allows the retailer to develop a relationship with the customer
  • Makes a second purchase likely
  • Increases the possibility of mobile checkout, as the customer does not have to enter address and billing information
  • Enables targeted marketing to specific customers

Sellers are not the only beneficiaries of customer registration. Customers experience:

  • Easier and faster checkout processes (no need to re-key credit card numbers)
  • Easier order tracking
  • Access to order history
  • Advance information about sales and special offers

While all of this is well and good, it is not the end of the conversation. There are some important reasons why registration can act as a barrier to someone considering making a purchase.

Drawbacks to Requiring Website Registration

Many customers do not want to register when buying from an online retailer. Here is a sampling of some of the major objections to account registration:

  • Registering could increase the time required to purchase an item, especially if it involves a lengthy form.
  • People don’t want to give out personal information, especially if it seems unnecessary. Why should someone buying a sweater need to provide a birthdate?
  • People don’t want to have to remember yet another login and password.
  • Customers who plan to make one purchase fear that they will receive lots of unwanted marketing emails and ads.
  • Customers fear that their private information, such as credit card numbers or Social Security numbers, will get stolen or even willingly released by the retailer.

Ways to Overcome Customer Resistance to Registration

There are steps you can take as an online retailer to increase the chance that a customer will register:

  • Don’t request too much information, making the form frustrating and giving customers the feeling they may be vulnerable to identity theft. There’s nothing worse than having to go back and re-key seemingly unimportant information just so you can buy something. Many customers abandon their carts at this point.
  • Make buttons very clear, especially buttons allowing the customer to opt-out or opt-in. If they think they are being tricked, they will not revisit your site.
  • Do not automatically check boxes, forcing the customer to uncheck a box.
  • Explain why certain information is needed, such as birthdate or gender.
  • Explain the benefits of registration (faster checkout, early access to sales, etc.).
  • Allow customers to register after they enter their order information. If the address and credit card are the same, they won’t have to re-key in information, saving time and hassle.
  • Offer the opportunity to log in with Facebook, Twitter or other platform. Then customers won’t have to remember another login and password.
  • Make clear any data entry mistakes or missing information on the registration form. Highlighting this data is a good way to make the problem obvious. If customers have to dig to determine what was incorrect, they are more likely to abandon the process and their carts before completing a purchase.

When done correctly, registration is a win-win for the seller and the buyer. An experienced web designer can help you identify effective ways to encourage your customers to register.