The Online Bumper

John Ekman


André Morys asked me – “What is the online equivalent of the Bumper used in traditional/offline retailing?” I was on stage at ConversionSummit and I was caught off-hand. I didn’t have an answer. I felt really embarrassed so this post is my pathetic versuch to come up with an answer to that question.

Or as a matter of fact, not that question but another one -“What can we learn from how the Bumper is used in physical stores?”

“What can we learn from how the Bumper is used in physical stores?”

When talking with some other Conversion Heroes in the evening we concluded that maybe there is no direct online equivalent to the Bumper. Does that mean that there’s nothing we can  learn from the Bumper? Of course not.

[yellowbox]The Bumper

The Bumper or a “Power display” is the first thing that usually meets  shoppers as they enter a store, especially in a fashion store. The objective of the Bumper is to slow down shoppers as they enter the store so that they don’t pass half the store without even having looked at anything. When people enter the store from the street they have a high pace and long strides. In order to shop you need to walk slowly and look around.  So the Bumper is an object which slows down physical movement.[/yellowbox]

Here are the key traits of the Bumper:

  1. You’ll find it right after you enter the store- It’ll be the first thing you see on your “tour” in the shop.
  2. It is usually wide  – It is hard to just pass by – You will literally have to walk around it.
  3. It is low – It doesn’t obstruct the view on items further into the store.
  4. The objects for sale have a wide appeal – Since the objective of the Bumper is to stop movement, not primarily to sell, the items must appeal to as many as possible. Therefore the items  here are usually very “General”, such as plain T-shirts, Plain jans and similar.

So now the question – What can we learn from this?

To begin with – It is a lot harder to put something “in the way” of online shoppers that they will “have to go around”.  Online shoppers are more task-oriented – They will try harder to get around whatever you put in their way.  Secondly, it’s a lot easier to “get around something” online, the user will just look and click somewhere else and “go” there.

So IF you want to experiment with trying to get the visitor to consider something else at the beginning of their visit- This is how you should do it:

  1. Make it “low” so that it does not block out the view of the rest of the store (no flash intro – remember?!)
  2. Don’t make it “wide” either, people will get around it anyway, if they want to.
  3. Use items with general appeal, such thing that most visitors on the entry pages would consider. What those thing are can vary depending on the entry page for various traffic segments and how targeted they are.

So can we use Online Bumpers? The answer to that is – We can test them. And if we do, we should keep the three points above in mind.

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