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I am working on a e-commerce project where I am redesigning the checkout flow. Currently there is legal requirement for users to register to be able to checkout because of the type of products that are being sold. This is creating friction and increasing drop outs during checkout. As guest checkout is not possible, I am thinking of merging the registration and checkout in flow. The checkout flow currently has 3 steps:

  • Personal info
  • Shipping details
  • Payment details

If the user logs in or has already logged in, the personal info is prefilled and can be edited. This step lacks only a few fields that are required to also register the user. If we can add those fields to this step, this step could also potentially create the account and the user would still be in the checkout flow (both logically and visually).

In a normal situation, I understand the concern that users may find it a bit intrusive and also cheeky if we slide in the "create the account" in the checkout flow, but here the user has to legally create an account to buy and I see this as a flow that would make this more easier than intrusive.

I would like have some ideas from UXers who have done a similar thing or any suggestions/ concerns you may have had.

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If you have to get users to create an account when they check out then I would recommend:

  • reducing the data needed to create an account to a minimum (email and password)
  • being honest about it

So first screen you can set the scene

# You must create an account first

You have to create an account because of x and y.

[Continue]

Then the next screen can be this...


# Account details

Email address
We’ll send you an email to confirm your order
[                    ]

Password
[                    ]

[Continue]

This sort of thing. The words really matter here.

I would also set expectation up front of this, so users aren't surprised by the time they choose to checkout and don't waste their time.

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  • Exactly. Openness and honesty can gain understanding and trust to reduce dropout. But it may require a communications expert and some a-b testing to find out what works best. – jazZRo Sep 8 at 18:43
  • Thanks for answering, I actually took a similar approach as you have mentioned but as its a single page checkout, there is no continue to next page/screen, but next step right below it. – aravind Sep 30 at 14:54
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A big part of users' concerns about creating an account has to do with the overhead, related to this. I'd consider all the additional data that you're collecting for registration that is not part of doing a checkout. Unless you have some other objectives in mind (and I would question whether it is reasonable to combine two different objectives in a single flow), this data should be really little and you could think of ways of not having to collect it at all.

A very specific example is the requirement to authenticate. This is very commonly done via a password or a 3rd party login. However, both of these have their downsides:

  1. A password already brings in the whole discourse of the usability of remembering it, security aspects of storing it on your side, the flow of password recovery, etc.
  2. 3rd party authentication might bring up issues of whether you're obtaining some personal data from the 3rd party.

How about an alternative approach: How about you taking the initiative of authentication? Is it an option that people authenticate passwordless via the order confirmation mail they receive? Or maybe you might send a password on paper together with the first shipment - think of usability before the password is received or if it doesn't arrive at all.

Another big aspect is the sheer requirement to register. However, you seem to indicate that this is inevitable, so I would put extra effort in communicating this clearly to users.

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If the products are sensitive in nature and users are legally required to identify themselves, then the registration step might be a natural filter to weed out uncommitted or illegal users.

If there is a legal requirement for registration, then all websites selling the same products have the same requirement. And the user would either be used to this or realize after visiting a few competitors.

In the scenario where registration is sneaked into the checkout process, a user might go through the process and not realize their data is captured for legal purposes. They might get into legal trouble for purchasing the item without their knowledge, which creates a betrayal outcome. In the best case, the interface hints registration is not required, but asks for registration information, leaving the user in limbo whether they are registering or not. Again, creating mistrust.

Just be transparent about the legal requirement by stating the facts (eg. "Under California Law, you are required to create an account to purchase this item").

One compromise could be showing the registration requirements after the user has filled all checkout information. Therefore, making use of user commitment psychology to motivate them to finish what they have already started and committed time doing. Similar to Yelp's committing users to write reviews and later asking for registration to post it (or lose the time already invested in writing the review).

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  • First off Thanks for answering Nicolas. The part about sneaking in the registration can cause an issue of user loosing trust, but we are already expliciting mentioning that a registration is required even before they enter the checkout+registration process. – aravind Sep 30 at 14:57

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