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The User Experience: Do Current Shoppers Take Precedence Over New Visitors?

Posted on December 3, 2008 by Zach

While performing a little research I came across something which both amazed and shocked me. Apparently there is at least one internet retailer out there who can afford to turn away customers in an effort to provide a better user experience for those already on their website. It’s very red carpet. Like a bouncer in front of a gated entrance, with clipboard in hand referencing a list that you may or may not have gotten on.  I am talking about Macy's site governor (pictured below).  The feature keeps new visitors to the website at a temporary holding page until current users finish what they are doing and leave the website. Apparently they have some kind of user or performance based cap that kicks into effect to control the traffic and/or load time on their other pages. I am not sure if they simply don't have the capacity to handle all of the traffic they would normally receive or if there are other reasons to throttle users on their website but I found the solution both annoying and frustrating. If I was a “normal user” I would simply go to another website to find what I was looking for (who has time to wait around?). Since I was interested in this practice I held on to see when I would be let in. After waiting more than 10 minutes I was finally let in and forwarded to the normal Macy's homepage and was able to continue with normal use of the website.

While I am not sure what the reasons or results of such a feature on an eCommerce website might be, I also can't imagine what it might do for their bottom line and conversion rate. I started thinking about it, but was unable to test if the feature restricts visitors to non homepage pages, users from paid marketing channels, organic traffic or just direct traffic like myself? Regardless, it’s hard for me to grasp why an eCommerce website would enable a feature which deliberately turns away shoppers?  Comments are welcomed and encouraged, I would love to hear what others have to say about the subject.

Macy's Site Governor



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