Today we launched guest checkouts on Detailed Image. A guest checkout just means that the customer isn’t required to create an account to make a purchase. Every single article or study we’ve ever seen has said something to the effect of “if you don’t have guest checkouts you’re basically burning money and pissing off potential customers”.
A few weeks ago I realized that I’d be able to launch the feature before the holiday shopping rush if I hustled. Presumably guest checkouts are most important during the holiday season when people that don’t normally shop with you are making one-off gift purchases. So that’s what I did.
Here’s what it looks like:
The challenge is to still push signing up for an account while also making it very easy to proceed as a guest, and to do it without writing a long paragraph of text. I like what we did, although we’ll wait for the numbers and customer feedback before declaring it a success. I’m hoping to A/B test a variety of things throughout the checkout process soon, including this copy.
The real question is: why did it take so long? The answer is pretty crappy. Back in 2007 when I designed the infrastructure for this shopping cart, everything was predicated on having a user account to make a purchase, leave a review, sign up for the newsletter, and more, as well as for us to properly track purchases on the back end. Over time we just kept building upon that until recently in the past year or so when we started decoupling some functionality from having a user account, such as signing up for the newsletter (another duh feature).
It wasn’t an easy problem to re-work, but it wasn’t all that difficult either. One simple feature we had to build was an order status page so people without an account could check on their order. We had some back-end work to do too, but again it really wasn’t that bad given the potential payoff. I/we had been avoiding rework that wasn’t really that much work, in part because it’s not sexy work, and that was my fault as the lead developer. I should have made it a higher priority.
The good news is that it’s live and we’ll reap the benefits moving forward.