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The Truth About Guest Checkout: A Surprising Finding

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Guest checkout is quick and convenient. Logging in requires more commitment – and (gasp) sharing your personal information. In exchange, you get convenience and more personalized shopping experiences.

It makes sense that someone who opts to create an account, then returns and logs back in, would be more likely to complete a transaction.

Our study of 1.8 million smartphone sessions revealed a surprising finding:

On average, the conversion rates for mobile shoppers who logged in 1 and those who used guest checkout were nearly identical.

This was unexpected and raised a key question: Is there a point in retailers offering both if logged-in and guest users have similar conversion rates?


Sites like Amazon and Walmart require users to log in to check out.

It’s a smart move. Picture yourself as a retailer. When users create an account, you have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with them.

If customers abandon their carts, you can email them to woo them back.

You can send them special offers just because you’re thinking of them – and you happen to have a big sale.

And once you’ve lured them back, you can customize your display products. Amazon has this down to a creepy-were-it-not-so-convenient science.

For retailers, engaging customers who create an account pays off.

In our study, we found that even if the conversion rates are similar, the Average Order Value (AOV) for logged-in users is 10% higher than for guest users.

Yes, logged-in users spend 10% more per order, on average.

As useful as having shoppers create accounts, most retailers continue to offer guest checkout.

We analyzed the 100 top retail sites according to the Internet Retailer Top 500 database and found that 1/3 of the top retail sites required mobile shoppers to create an account.

As one might guess, most visitors to commerce sites would rather not invest the time and energy into creating an account.

And on mobile, where navigating through various screens trying to reset your password is much more challenging than on desktop, it makes sense that more users would opt for guest checkout than for logged-in checkout.

But how many more? Our study found that smartphone shoppers are 1.2 times as likely to select guest checkout rather than opting to log in.

We also found that offering guest checkout provides customers with better shopping experiences and increases your mobile conversion rates.

Across the sites we studied, the share of revenue contributed by mobile shoppers selecting guest checkout – versus the share contributed by mobile shoppers selecting logged-in checkout – was 13% higher.


Given mobile shoppers’ clear preference for guest checkout, it’s not surprising that most sites offer both options.

But here’s one insight we uncovered that was shocking:

While, on average, the conversions for logged-in users and guest users were about the same, for some sites, logged-in users had lower conversion rates.

Why would shoppers who opted to log in have lower conversion rates?

We went through the logged-in user checkout process for sites with lower conversion rates for logged-in users. We realized that while fields like shipping and payment information were pre-populated, smartphone users still had to click through all the steps of the checkout flow to make their purchases.

We then zeroed in on sites with much higher conversion rates for logged-in users. And it turned out that these sites all had two things in common: Logged-in users got to bypass all the checkout steps and go directly to the order review step, and their credit card information was saved by default.

Our senior analyst, Kendra Cook, concluded, “Pre-filling the checkout fields is not enough. Sites should have logged-in users bypass all steps of checkout. And they should automatically save credit card information to spare users from having to thumb it in again.”


Smartphone shoppers want choices. They want to be able to check out as a guest if their thumbs are tired or they’re short on time or attention.

But when it comes to their favorite brands, mobile shoppers are interested in repeated interactions. And they’re willing to give up a little privacy to do so.

Just be mindful: If you offer logged-in checkout, don’t just approach it as a check box you have to tick off the mobile UX best practices list.

Consider what your customers are looking for – a more efficient, convenient shopping experience, which can be delivered through better, faster mobile checkout.


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