The more steps you make customers take before buying the more likely they will skip out.
If you have a lot of returning customers (if you're selling things like cd's or books), it would be more easy for them to order something if their information is stored somewhere so they don't have to fill it in for every purchase.
Tell them what the advantages are to registering (ability to use wish list, no need to re-enter info, etc.), but let them make the choice whether to do it or not. I think if you look at the serious sites you're talking about, you'll see that most of them make it an option. If the customer does decide to register, it's also common to give the option of storing or not storing credit card information as part of the process.
I'm assuming the "before shopping" in the thread title was a mis-type?
Yes the "before shopping" was a mis-type. They're off course welcome to browse all they want.
I'm making a login-box on the front page and a posibility of logging in inside the cart. When logged in customers can use the wish list. If they're buying stuff I'll let it be optional whether to use their profile or just fill out an adress form as usual. That way I won't be forcing them to register.
I definitely agree that a log in should be optional for a web business. I don't have it for my ebusiness and none of my many repeat customers has ever asked for it or complained. I personally detest forced log-ins especially on e-commerce sites and I will not shop sites that require it. Reason is I don't want people collecting data on me, sending me unwanted emails and spam, even selling me email address, which happens all to often.
I too do not like it both as a consumer and a merchant. You're going to need a password to make a cup of coffee soon. blah...
I use the fact that our site does not have a forced login as a marketing tool, since most of our competitors use it. "Its easier to order from us".. something like that ;)
Have you ever seen a brick/mortar store where you had to register as you walked in the door? (aside from some membership clubs).
Plenty of major sites don't require registration at any point.
Reminds me of those few brick/mortar stores that ask your phone number when you make a purchase. Radio Shack used to, but had many complaints and stopped the policy. I think Lowes Hardware now asks for a phone number. I give them 555-5555. (or better yet the number of Home Depot).
don't force shoppers to register first
when they have made their first purchase, automatically register them so they can login another time, if and only if logging in makes it easier for them to buy from you next time
Optional. Chances are very likely that I am only going to be purchasing once from an online store so they only need as much information from me to fulfill my order.
If I am buying a lot, I will consider entering more information, but usually I am only there to shop, I am afraid the more information I enter, they might use it against me (sending me emails, etc)
After many hours in a usability lab, we found that users having to log in to complete a purchase was one of the top 5 problems on the site. We now allow users to purchase without logging in and our Bizrate scores have increased and we've verified in more lab testing.
I should mention that this site is a top 50 Internet Ratailer site and does over $600 million per year.
Hollywood007 > Wow, very interesting research. That sure settles it. I'm tempted do ask for at hint of what the other major problems were, that you discovered. If those are trade secrets that's understandable.
Thanks for the input :-)
Hippocrates, I sent you a sticky mail so we don't get off topic here.