If a visitor tries to make a purchase on an website from which they made a purchase maybe a few years ago, during checkout it might happen that the user does not remember he has an account and as I noticed the flow turns weird and bad for the visitor like this:

The user goes to checkout and is prompted to either login or checkout as guest or sign up.

Given that the user might not remember he even has an account let`s suppose he will try to checkout as guest.

Once he enters his email he will be prompted with an error "An account exists with this email address . Please login!"

Now the visitor tries to login but obviously he will not know the password and there frustration will hit and breaking a vital flow ( It might even stop the user from ordering by being frustrated, or getting his account locked by trying different passwords ). Try to reset passwords, go to e-mail, set a new password etc...

How would you go about to fix this ?

I have not seen this issue being tackled by anyone but maybe there are websites that solved this somehow.

  • Does checking out as a guest have the user create an account? Does having the user sign in provide them with any benefits over continuing as a guest (e.g. prefill shipping address, etc)? They might think it easier to simply fill in this data again (which could very likely be different now anyways) rather than try and recover their account then update their information. Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 15:51
  • This reminds me of this very famous article by Jared Spool. articles.uie.com/three_hund_million_button
    – Fletch
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 15:48

2 Answers 2


Most sites I know of that have guest checkout do not check if the email provided has an account. Simply complete the checkout process and send the appropriate emails.


It's pretty like what you've said:

  1. User enters registered email
  2. Site says it's already registered
  3. User tries to log in, doesn't remember the password, resets it
  4. Voilà, user is logged in (and probably saved their new password in browser)

If you don't really need user account, don't ask user to register/login, just send them an email.

If you need user login, you can help your user to get back on board by making the option of resetting password by email more visible (especially when last login was more than, say, 3 months ago).

Or you can just send via email a link for one time login. So the user won't need to deal with passwords right now. I may have a password written somewhere not near me, and I don't need to reset it right now.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.