Now I know the question seems like it will have obvious answers, but what I need mostly are sources if possible. I would like to convince my boss' that requiring logins to order is the right path.
I work for a web based company that has been in business for about 10 years. Our business is entirely service based, and ordering is often a matter of just having someone email their request to us. (I don't want to say too much here about the specifics of the business, sorry). Our clients range from mid-twenties to probably late sixties, and are all business professional types.
Up to this point, our business has THREE ways to order from us: straight emailing the order (not from website), an order form on the website that requires no log-in (just forces user to put their info in every time - although we band-aided this by using a remember-me cookie for just those credentials), and a login-and-order form. To make things worse, the login is given after the client places their first order with the non-login form (or by email) - so you can't just register once and order.
My thought is that we should get rid of the non-login form, create a registration process, and require login to order. We would probably keep the email only method as so many of our current clients use it.
Here are the benefits I see from moving in this direction:
It's simpler. Having two login forms - one of which you can't log into until using the other - is very confusing. What's more, if you have to order with one form, you are likely to not know of the other form - you have been trained as to how to order.
It's more secure. We of course use https and encrypt the remember me cookie and all of that, but it's still more secure to have someone login than to send their data (sometimes including credit card information) EVERY time they order.
It's easier for the client. Even with the remember-me cookie, there is a lot of information that can be just saved in a profile and made to not be dealt with more than once.
It provides accurate information and better statistics.
It's the STANDARD practice. I can't even think of a site that lets you provide personal information without login. If I were ordering from us, I would spend at least a few minutes looking for a registration and login form, and probably be hesitant to order in the end - I would feel like, "I can't log in? What about when I come back to order again, I do this AGAIN?"
Now, I feel like this is a no-brainer change. However, my boss' are VERY set in their ways, and I know what they're response will be: don't rock the boat, if it's not broke, why fix it, etc. The main argument that's come up in the past is that they believe our clients are used to this and that it is more convenient, and requiring registration and login will scare them away or be too much of a hassle.
I believe it will be more straightforward and a boon for both us and the client, and if we force them to do something a certain way, they won't really care, if we present it right (like, "Here's our exciting new method for ordering that is more convenient and a better experience!") People are used to registering and logging in; it's not a barrier IMO.
But, all I have is my opinion. Are there any studies or articles or anything about this topic?