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I'm assuming the "before shopping" in the thread title was a mis-type?
I definitely agree that a log in should be optional for a web business. I don't have it for my ebusiness and none of my many repeat customers has ever asked for it or complained. I personally detest forced log-ins especially on e-commerce sites and I will not shop sites that require it. Reason is I don't want people collecting data on me, sending me unwanted emails and spam, even selling me email address, which happens all to often.
Plenty of major sites don't require registration at any point.
Reminds me of those few brick/mortar stores that ask your phone number when you make a purchase. Radio Shack used to, but had many complaints and stopped the policy. I think Lowes Hardware now asks for a phone number. I give them 555-5555. (or better yet the number of Home Depot).
If I am buying a lot, I will consider entering more information, but usually I am only there to shop, I am afraid the more information I enter, they might use it against me (sending me emails, etc)
I should mention that this site is a top 50 Internet Ratailer site and does over $600 million per year.