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I've noticed two types of e-commerce sites:

1) Member exclusive site

2) Shop without a membership site

1 goes against all of my UX design philosophies. What I mean is that I've always known that blocking the user from shopping (creating a barrier) is bad for user experience (they feel like they have to provide their details when they don't want to). Is there something I'm missing? Why do sites create that "exclusive shopping for members only" experience? Are there numbers that I'm unaware of, or is it that they don't care? And how is it more beneficial than the amazon shopping pattern where you don't have to signup/login to buy products?

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Good question, Majo0od!

Member Exclusivity is a business strategy to gain more members who have signed up for the service and is a marketing ploy to get more signups/subscribers and get ample emails and numbers to push their marketing to.

Whereas a website without mandatory sign-up aims to deliver a smooth experience to first time users, after which they can pitch them to become a member.

Both are honestly good business decisions and the first scenario can help the user in the long run.

For example:

Website A offers to purchase a product without sign-up.

Website B has a mandatory sign-up procedure.

User logs on to Website A and decides to purchase a product he likes. He checks out and now is asked for all his details including address, telephone number, credit card, etc. He enters all of those and checks out with the product.

User logs on to Website B and isn't allowed to buy a product unless he signs up. He signs up and now clicks on Purchase. In the cart, he already has his details input and only needs to confirm the order.

Website A allows a smooth onboarding process. Con: Requires to enter details each time.

Website B allows a smooth purchase flow. Con: User might purchase on another website.

The benefits of Website B are that it allows them to interact more with the users as a business themselves as members than they could with the Website A strategy. Also, this means that since the User is a member, they are bound to visit again due to the perks of membership, and the website can contact them through emails or texts due to registrations to attract them to offers.

The correct strategy, both in case of business strategy and user experience to me is to not restrict purchase to membership only but to encourage purchase without a membership and once the purchase is made, show benefits of being a member on the confirmation page.

  • So the con of B completely out weighs it's pro. So why do it in the first place? I' not convinced about interacting with the business more. How does forcing the user sign up do that? And what are the perks of membership, taking Ruelala as an example, it does say 70% off of all purchases (good on them to highlight that) but forcing them to signup, instead of giving them 70% off while not even registering seems more logical to me. So again, how is B at all any better than A? – Majo0od Oct 8 '15 at 14:29
  • The mandatory sign-up provides additional benefits to the users (such as Discounts) while it also provides as a good pitch as a business to showcase X number of users signed up for our Members Only Service. As an Open website, one cannot say that. As a business, it comes down to how you could retain users. In UX, the Website's B strategy might not be helpful, but as a business it serves some purpose of making sure the user buys from your brand since he's now a member. So, it isn't better but closed. You may also relate this to businesses following the App Only model. – Swapnil Borkar Oct 9 '15 at 9:07
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Some benefits I can think of as a user:

Favourites / wishlist: Without an account you would have to add everything to bookmarks or other form of link saving.

Purchase History: Not much to say, it's something that could be useful for users as a registry of what they have bought.

Asking question and receiving answers: Even if the site gives you the option to email you with the answer, if you are making a lot of questions about many products, it may be better to have them all inside the account for a multiple view, than to check single emails with each answer.

Marketing: I'm not really into the effectiveness of this, but as user I'm used to receive promotions, discounts, etc from this kind of sites, so it seems that it's something useful to them in order to increase sales.

Faster purachase, by reusing previous purchase data: Shipping and payment information could be easily saved and reused when you have an account, so the buying process will be lighter after the first purchase since users won't have to lose time entering the same data each time.

Data mining + CRM: Probably it's easier and more effective to get good data and statistics from members than from sporadic buyers, which also improves the CRM process, to offer them products which they are more likely to like or need than just random offers.

  • So what I'm reading is registered is more beneficial to the business than the user (mostly). Purchase history isn't really as important, or wish list as it is to just purchase, especially for the first time user. A registration seems far more beneficial to the business. But sites like Rulala don't even allow you to see content before registering. How is that at all beneficial? – Majo0od Oct 8 '15 at 14:27

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