From time to time I’ve come across retail establishments (usually jewelry stores) that keep their doors locked. You have to press a button to get inside. This always seems a little unfriendly and very creepy. Are the doors locked to keep things out or to keep them in.
I had a similar experience online today when I went to an auto dealer’s website to check out his inventory. After I clicked the “check our inventory” button, a page opened that required me to give my full name, email address and home telephone number before they’d show me the 85 cars that matched my search requirements. A little unfriendly and very creepy. I thought, “What the hell is this nonsense? I’m only looking. I'm not giving personal information so some salesperson start bugging me.”
The Internet allows customers to anonymously research, and compare. And while I appreciate the value of capturing names and addresses for sales leads, my guess is that this dealer is loosing business. I’m sure the dealer wouldn’t require me to provide identification before looking at cars on his lot (for a test-drive maybe – but not to look). Why is he trying to invade my privacy online?
Your website is a storefront – just like your physical locations. It allows potential customers to learn more about you and to see what you have to offer. In most cases, prospects will not jump through hoops just to look at your merchandise. If they can’t find what they’re looking for quickly, easily and anonymously on your site, they’ll quickly, easily and anonymously go somewhere else. This dealer has locked the doors, pulled the shades, turned off the lights and turned off who knows how many prospective buyers.