The checkout process is the last measure businesses have to convert users into shoppers.

Part of establishing a smooth customer experience is choosing the method that encourages the most converted transactions. Businesses have three checkout options to offer consumers: guest checkout, registering an account and social sign in.

Guest checkout
This option lets consumers make purchases somewhat anonymously. While shoppers input identifiable information such as their names and addresses, this data is not tied to a specific customer account. That means it is not associated with a username and password and subsequent purchases from that person are not tracked accordingly.

Guest checkout reduces barriers for first-time shoppers. Creating an account takes time and therefore distracts users from completing their purchase. Individuals who are ordering from a particular business for the first time may not be sure whether they'll make a repeat purchase yet, so they may be less inclined to undergo the hassle of creating an account. As ClickZ cited, businesses that offer guest checkout experience lower rates of cart abandonment than those that do not. The option also increases mobile conversions as smartphone shoppers are even less likely to take the time to register an account.

However, guest checkout does not allow businesses to track these shoppers effectively, which is valuable marketing data for online retailers. It's up to each organization to determine if the resulting e-commerce payments are an acceptable trade-off for sacrificing this information.

Registered account
Businesses hoping to get data on each and every customer often make shoppers create an account with their online store. Registration provides more details for marketing and personalization. Retailers have an accurate record of every purchase a customer makes and can suggest related items in emails or sponsored ads. In addition, companies can track sales histories to determine when a person is more likely to complete an order and alter their marketing strategy accordingly. It is also easier to ask for feedback, eConsultancy noted, and customers can review items they have bought.

Shoppers can also benefit from account registration. They can save their address and payment information for repeat purchases, and many stores allow registered customers to create wish lists. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys the process of creating an account. ClickZ noted that 23 percent of people who abandon their online shopping carts do so because they were forced to register with the store.

Social sign in
Some businesses allow customers to sign in using their social media accounts. This identifies users based on their Twitter, Facebook or other online profile and reduces the amount of login information customers have to remember. To observe how social sign in plays out, eConsultancy observed clothing retailer Asos' switch last year. Now, when users check out, the site directs them to a page with three social media icons – Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter – and an email icon. Below that, shoppers can click a link to sign in if they already have an account.

While this technically eliminates a step once users have an established account, they'll still have to register by giving Asos their email address, date of birth, gender, address and payment details, essentially performing the same amount of work as registering an account. In addition, authorizing Asos to access their social media gives the company more power than many customers may be happy with. According to one of eConsultancy's screenshots, if a customer links his or her Twitter account, the fashion retailer can read that person's tweets, observe who they follow, follow other people, update the individual's profile and post additional tweets. This would be a huge barrier for many consumers.

Many companies prefer social sign in for the marketing benefits it provides as it gives analysts a better look at individual customers. The method benefits shoppers as well, allowing them to consolidate various accounts into one manageable area.

Successful businesses generally offer more than one checkout option. Finding the right combination of these three methods encourages online payments, but it's not all businesses must do to develop a successful e-commerce strategy. A payment processing company ensures that, once customers begin the checkout process, their data is handled safely and securely.