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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.
I use the fact that our site does not have a forced login as a marketing tool, since most of our competitors use it. "Its easier to order from us".. something like that ;)
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.