Asking for Phone Numbers: Optional, Required, or Hidden?

As eCommerce store owners, we want to make it as easy as possible for a customer to successfully purchase your product. Many times we hear of minimalist forms in the hopes of ushering a potential customer through our sales funnel. But does this really work?

Platforms like Shopify allow us to choose what we require from our customers. In this post we will explore one specific form field, the phone number field, and whether or not we should leave it hidden, optional or required.

Hint: The answer isn’t “Hidden”.

Case for Optional

Pros:
  • The browser may auto-fill the field anyway
  • Customers who willingly leave their phone number are more open to receiving phone calls
  • Signals a more interested buyer, so even an abandoned cart event tells the store owner that this customer may be a warmer lead
  • Allows for the store owner to call the customer, either current or abandoned, and get feedback about their store or product.
  • Builds an authentic relationship with customers, and potential customers
  • Leads to an increase in sales; if you don’t ask, you won’t get
  • Builds a more complete user profile, and ability to engage/market your audience via chat/sms as well
Cons:
  • May force the customer to contemplate whether or not they should provide their phone number
  • Increase chance for an error message on a bad number being added
  • Longer checkout flow

Case for Required

Pros:
  • All the benefits of optional, but with a greater percentage of phone numbers
  • Successful purchase customers are a little more likely to be engaged users of your product
Cons:
  • Customers might want the product, but those who do not wish to be contacted may feel frustrated

Case for Hidden

Pros:
  • One less thing for a customer to think about
  • Faster checkout flow
  • Lower chance a customer will see an error alert for typing something wrong
Cons:
  • No way to call the customer and get feedback
  • No ability to call an abandoned customer and try to convert/get feedback/upsell
  • A less complete customer profile
  • Discounting your ability to create a two-way relationship with your customer

In most cases, go for “required”

Having to enter a phone number field in order to make a purchase seems like an added point of friction for a customer who just wants to give you their money.

If you believe your product is such an impulse buy that even one extra field might cause your customer to think twice, then by all means keep this field hidden. You may also decide to have it hidden if you have no intention of calling the customer for any reason.

However, all in all, given the immense potential value that you can attain by calling up and talking to your customers, current and potential, and seeing that browsers will generally auto-fill most form fields, it seems too prudent not to require a phone number.

There is no better way to grow your business than to talk to your customers and build an authentic relationship with them.

If you are not asking for a phone number, you are discounting your ability to build a two-way relationship with your customer. And this is bad form for any entrepreneur.