This one comes up all the time. You go to look up a customer in your store’s administration panel (to find their contact info, update their billing info, issue a credit, etc) but they just don’t seem to exist. You’ve tried looking by their last name, company and email all with no luck so where the heck is this customer’s info? You can find their order, but not their account.
Well here’s what’s happening: you are allowing what is called Anonymous Checkout on your site. When a client chooses to checkout anonymously, they are not making an account on your site. Period. I get people all the time asking how they accept anonymous orders but force everyone to make an account and the answer is simple – you can’t. The entire point of allowing anonymous checkout is to target the demographic of internet users that are just a bit too paranoid and feel that creating an account will always lead to spam or identity theft. It’s a substantial demographic so it can sometimes be a hard decision as to whether or not you will accept their orders.
Go to Store Settings > General in your ProStores administration panel and expand the Shopping Car and Checkout Options and you should be looking at something like this:
What matters here is the last section, Checkout Options. Notice you can require an account, not allow accounts, or allow both. If your site is allowing both options, then you are allowing people to checkout without creating accounts. While in many cases this isn’t an issue, if you are considering allowing this option there are a few things you should consider first:
- Anonymous customers cannot purchase downloadable products
- Anonymous customers cannot purchase subscription products
- You cannot issue a credit to an anonymous customer
- You cannot perform order entry for an anonymous customer
- You cannot look up customer information for an anonymous customer
While these may seem trivial to most stores out there, these are important things to keep in mind for certain types of stores – most importantly stores that offer only downloadable products. If a store like that allows both, they’re simply going to be losing sales whenever someone attempts to checkout and leaves thanks to getting an error message. If the option wasn’t there in the first place the idea of checking out without an account may not even occur to them.
My point is not that there’s anything wrong with accepting anonymous orders, it’s that the decision to do so should be an informed decision and hopefully this information will help you decide what’s best for your site.