Not Registered? Please Sign-up First: A Randomized Field Experiment on the Ex-Ante Registration Request
Information Systems Research, forthcoming
39 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2019 Last revised: 29 Oct 2020
Date Written: October 7, 2019
Online commerce websites often request users to register in the online shopping process. Recognizing the challenges of user registration, many websites opt to delay their registration request until the end of the conversion funnel (i.e., ex-post registration request), our study explores an alternative approach by asking users to register with the website at the beginning of their shopping journey (i.e., ex-ante registration request). Guided by a stylized analytical model, we conducted a large-scale randomized field experiment in partnership with an online retailer in the U.S. to examine how the ex-ante request affects users' registration decision, short-term conversion, and long-term purchase behavior. Specifically, we randomly assign the new users in the website’s incoming traffic to one of the two experimental groups: one with an ex-ante registration request preceding the ex-post request (treatment), and the other with only an ex-post registration request (control). Our results show that the ex-ante request leads to an increased probability of user registration, that is, the users in the treatment group on average are relatively 58.08% more likely to register with the website than those in the control group. Furthermore, even though we observe null evidence on the immediate effects of the ex-ante request on short-term conversion, the ex-ante request leads to significant increases in customer purchases in the long run. Based on our estimation of the local average treatment effects, the ex-ante registered users are relatively 10.89% more likely to make a purchase, place relatively 16.76% greater number of orders, and generating relatively 13.22% higher total revenue for the firm in the long run. Further investigation into the long-term and short-term effects points to several underlying mechanisms, such as firm-initiated interaction, consumers’ usage continuity, and screening of low-interest users. We also conducted several robustness checks with the heterogeneous treatment effects on registration by device and day of week, and the long-term effects on purchase over an extended observation window. Our study provides managerial implications to the e-commerce websites on customer conversion and contributes to the research on IT artifact design.
Keywords: User Registration, Ex-Ante Request, Customer Conversion, Randomization Field Experiment, IT Artifact Design
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation