Sure, the likes of Amazon, Ebay and Google force you to have an "account". But they're market leaders. Massive Jupiters that bully the rest of the solar system. Their gravitational pull is so great and their credentials so spotless that shoppers make exceptions for them.
For the rest of us, though, the results of the research couldn't be clearer. Forcing people to create an account - just so they're entitled to give you their money - is big turn off. The second biggest turn off in e-commerce.
The strongest association people feel for the word "account" is their bank account. When web based services started, we actually needed a different word for all these thingamabobs we've got with Gmail, Amazon, Ebay and the rest. But we didn't get a different word, we got "account".
From a shopper's point of view, an account could mean
When you walk into a physical shop and buy a pair of socks, do you expect that to be the beginning of some long-term relationship? No. You just want those socks.
Why assume it's different in the e-commerce case?
But don't worry! We thought about it a lot. And we decided we still want your money. So much so, in fact, that we can tolerate you as a "guest". You don't really belong with everyone else, of course. You're an outsider. A bit of a freak, really. But we'll still take your cash.
When did that "Guest Checkout" thing become a thing? I don't know if you - like me - puzzled over it at first. But I do know there's a better way.
The solution isn't rocket science. But if you're lumbered with a Forced Account setup, it will need some computer science.
So for new customers, just let the order flow. Get this order in the bag and the money safely in the bank. Then say ...
"Awesome, Dude. That's done and done for you. Now, if you like, give me an incy-wincy password and use it to recycle all that info for the future. But if you don't like, no Biggy."
You'll have already collected an email for transaction notification, so you can pre-fill that. A password is now all that's needed to create the dreaded account. It's one data point, the minimum amount of work you can ask anyone to do. And you've even made that optional.
But most importantly, none of that has put a 35% kill factor into your checkout run because the order's already in the bag.
To really step up to the 2018 standard, you can offer to associate your site with one of the person's other social logins. So you don't even have to collect a password.