One of the big questions facing new merchants is whether or not to allow anonymous checkout. AspDotNetStorefront offers three options for you to consider for customer registration; Registration Required, Allow Anonymous Checkout – Email Required, and Allow Anonymous Checkout – Email Optional.
The storefront is set up by default for Registration Required. This is the easiest method to manage, as a majority of customers have a single account and all of their purchases are linked to this entry. When creating an account, customers are required to submit an email address and an account password along with the required address fields and customer information. This allows the customer to quickly log onto the site next time when they return for future purchases, or to check account and order status.
Another benefit is that the database tends to remain smaller and more manageable. This registration method is most effective on sites with products or services that customers purchase frequently, products that are unique or uncommon, or storefronts that tend to elicit high customer loyalty.
By setting up Allow Anonymous Checkout – Email Required, customers are allowed to skip the registration and proceed to checkout, although they can still register if they choose. When consumers purchase as an anonymous customer, they are still given a customer ID and entered in the database Customer table, but are not registered. Their name and phone number are also not retained in the Customer table.
If the customer returns to make another purchase, they will be forced to use a different email (if the Global Config: AllowCustomerDuplicateEMailAddresses is set to false), and they will not have access to their purchase history. They will however receive email notifications of their purchases, such as the initial receipt and shipping updates. This registration method is most effective on sites with products or services that are not purchased frequently, or are commonplace and competitive in price, where customer loyalty is typically low.
With Allow Anonymous Checkout – Email Optional setup, the user is allowed a further degree of anonymity, although they can still register if they wish to do so. The only difference between this arrangement and Allow Anonymous Checkout – Email Required, is of course entering an email is optional. Without the email, customers cannot receive receipts and other emails. This registration method is most effective on sites with products that purchasers tend to prefer a high degree of anonymity.
The debate over which method is more effective for converting customers places the win on the Allow Anonymous Checkout side of the fence, but there are pros and cons to each method and ideally the choice is affected by the goals of the site owner (profit, exclusivity, growth, ease of management, etc.), the type of products and services (unique products, common products, frequently/infrequently purchased products, etc.), the store size and marketing level (small single store or major franchise), and other unique factors.
The decision to allow anonymous checkout should not be made lightly due to the increased difficulty in managing customers and orders, but for the right stores, it can be the difference between an average year and a great year.