Anonymous Customer Accounts

When placing an order on your store, a shopper can check out as an existing customer or as as a "guest". Most shoppers know the advantages of using a customer account, but some may prefer to check out anonymously.

There are pros and cons to allowing anonymous checkout, so be sure to configure your store settings accordingly. If you know you want to disable anonymous checkout on your store, see Anonymous Checkout Config Variables.

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Benefits of Anonymous Checkout

As a merchant, the primary benefit of offering anonymous accounts is a better conversion rate. Various industry reports show that up to 20% of abandoned carts can be attributed to forced registration. Some shoppers are instantly turned off by the idea of creating an account to make a purchase, particularly among today's ever-increasing mobile shopper demographic.

For one thing, it can be a hassle to keep track of additional credentials for a specific site, particularly when the customer doesn’t visit frequently. Today’s online shoppers experience “password fatigue” due to the sheer number of online accounts they’re required to maintain. Additionally, many customers are uncomfortable with the idea of storing their personal information indefinitely.

Offering anonymous or "guest" checkout helps reduce checkout barriers for all customers – without affecting account creation for those who want it.

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Anonymous Checkout Config Variables

By default, your Volusion store includes an account registration section on the checkout page.

Account creation isn’t necessary for placing an order, but you can choose to make it a required part of your store store's checkout process. You can also prevent any account creation by disabling the feature entirely.

To access the config variables associated with anonymous checkout from your Admin Area:

  1. Go to Settings > Config Variables.
  2. Click Search.
  3. In the Name field, type "anonymous".
  4. Click Search at the bottom of the page.

Allow Anonymous Checkouts

When enabled, this variable gives customers the option to log in, register for an account, or place an order without creating an account or logging in.

The Registration section of the checkout page contains two password fields, neither of which is required.

All Checkouts Anonymous

Prevents creation of a store account, even when placing an order. This option overrides the Allow Anonymous Checkout variable.

When this variable is enabled, customers will not see a Registration section on the checkout page.

If you deselect both variables, customers must either sign in to an existing account or register a new account before they can place an order. The Create Password and Retype Password fields are labeled with red asterisks to let customers know that Registration is required:

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Identifying an Anonymous Account

Your store creates a record for each anonymous customer, just like it does for registered customers. If you have the Anonymous column exposed as part of your Customers > Accounts table view, you'll be able to identify an anonymous account by the "Y" that displays in this column.

If this column doesn't appear in your customer accounts table by default, see Advanced Table View Controls for further instructions.

When viewing an individual customer record, you can identify anonymous accounts by expanding the Optional Fields section. An anonymous account will have the Customer is Anonymous check box selected.

You'll notice that the system stores each anonymous customer's email address and assigns the "Customer" access key, but the password field is blank:

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Anonymous Account Capabilities

Anonymous accounts do not allow stored passwords or payment methods. The password reset function does not work with anonymous accounts, since no original password exists.

Anonymous customers are unable to view order history or account details from the My Account page. However, details of the most recent order can be accessed through a link provided in the shipping confirmation email. A message stating "You are viewing this order in anonymous authentication mode" displays at the top of the order details page for anonymous customers.

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Anonymous Checkout FAQs

Why can't a registered customer check out anonymously with an existing email address?

A customer can place multiple anonymous orders using the same email address. However, once an email address is associated with a registered customer account, it can no longer be used for anonymous checkout. Customers will see  message stating: "The email address you've typed already has an account. Please type a different e-mail address or click here to go back and login."

If the customer wants to check out anonymously again, a store administrator must edit the registered customer account and select Customer is Anonymous, thereby releasing the associated email address for future anonymous checkouts.

If an anonymous customer registers for an account, will my store automatically connect the two accounts?

For security reasons, your store will never automatically combine a registered customer account with an existing anonymous account. If the accounts were automatically combined, anyone who registered an account with an existing anonymous email address would be able to view that customer's past order details and personal information.

Let's say, for example, that a customer checks out anonymously using the email address "customer@mail.com". Later, a different customer places an order with the same email address and chooses to register the account. This can happen if the visitor makes an error while typing the email address, if two parties share an address and unknowingly place orders with the same store, or even if a malicious party is actively attempting to gain personal information.

Creating a new and separate registered account for the same email address helps ensure that none of your customer data – anonymous or otherwise – is compromised.

How can I merge an anonymous account with an associated customer account?

Let's say that a customer who was previously anonymous has now decided to register an account with the same email address. The customer asks you to connect the two accounts, making all past orders available through one login. You can accomplish this action by using the Bulk Update tool. Please note that performing a bulk update can be a huge time saver, but should be done carefully so you don't accidentally undo hours of work. 

Before combining multiple customer accounts, determine which customer ID you want to preserve. Create a list of other customer IDs that need to be merged with the primary ID, and check to see if there are any orders associated with the accounts to be consolidated. If both accounts have orders associated with them, you can use a SQL statement to move the orders to one account before merging them.

To merge accounts:

  1. Go to Orders > Process Orders.
  2. From the three-dot actions menu, select Bulk Updates.
  3. From the SET drop-down menu, select CustomerID. In the field to the right of the drop-down, type the Customer ID number you want to keep.
  4. From the WHERE drop-down menu, select CustomerID. From the drop-down directly to the right, select EQUALS. In the last field, type the Customer ID number you want to delete.
  5. Press Apply Changes.

Your bulk update inputs should look something like this:

If you're merging more than two customer accounts, repeat the above process for any additional customer IDs. Once all orders have been consolidated and attached to one customer ID, you can delete the unwanted customer accounts.

Does my store create an account if a someone signs up for newsletters without placing an order?

Your store creates a registered customer account for this visitor, but the account does not have an associated password. If the visitor later chooses to create an account at checkout with the same email address, any new information will be added to the existing customer account. 

For more information about registered customer accounts, see Customer Account Management.