The Baymard Report Series: How forcing sign-ups drives down sales

For many online shoppers, the need to create a new account is a hurdle. Research shows that sites that don’t require account creation can see a 10-30% increase in conversion.

Whether you’re in the market for a toothbrush, sofa, or a new outfit, the promise of online shopping has been about the convenience and ease of buying from the comfort of your home. What’s more, the actual checkout experience should prove as convenient and easy as the shopping process itself, requiring a minimum number of hurdles for consumers.

For many online shoppers, the need to create a new account — even when purchasing something as simple as a toothbrush — is a hurdle. The Baymard Institute, in their 2017 Checkout Optimization and Reducing Abandonments Report1 (a survey of online shoppers) found that 37% percent of customers expressed dislike at being forced into creating an account. Baymard’s research also found that sites that don’t require account creation see a 10-30% increase in conversion.


It’s understandable why online merchants want to register shoppers and collect as much information from them as possible -- everything from demographics to phone numbers can help them better understand their customers. But the tension between business goals and the average consumer’s goals (I just want to buy that toothbrush) results in a user experience where nobody wins.

It’s not only new users who are being driven away by the lack of guest checkout. Sometimes registered shoppers need to avail themselves of guest checkout for one simple reason -- they’ve forgotten their login information. Forgotten passwords inhibit 19% of account users from completing their checkout, per the Baymard Institute research.

Account creation also spurs negative reactions for many shoppers. Baymard’s research found three reasons consumers are reluctant to create a new account:

  1. The expectation that checkout will take much longer
  2. The reluctance to sign up for yet another e-commerce account
  3. The concept of receiving marketing emails
A surprising number of users would strongly consider buying a product elsewhere if required to provide birthdate or gender.

Baymard’s research also reveals a surprising number of users indicated if they were required to provide a birthdate or gender information, they would strongly reconsider buying —35% and 11%, respectively.

That doesn’t mean e-commerce merchants need to completely shy away from asking about their customers. Baymard’s large-scale user testing reveals that user concerns are mollified by a simple, one-line explanation of why the information is required, and what it will be used for. If a phone number is required for shipping-related questions, let customers know. If age-restricted products require a user to input their birthday, inform them why that’s required.

User concerns are mollified by a simple, one-line explanation of why the information is required.

Consumer trust can often be earned through a simple guest checkout option with a trusted payment provider. With a third party solution such as Amazon Pay, merchants no longer need to require customers to provide seemingly needless data points to make a purchase. Without optimization, customers are likely to find another site that makes checkout easier, or, in certain situations, even leave the house to buy. To gain even more checkout optimization insights, read the full Baymard report here.

1 Checkout Optimization and Reducing Abandonments (2017), commissioned by Amazon Pay

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