60-word summary: Online mattress brands have a disadvantage compared to big mattress stores: you can’t try out the mattress before you buy. And yet some are thriving and completely disrupting the traditional marketplace. Why’s that? It’s because they’ve more than compensated for their competitive disadvantage. The fact that they still exist means there’s a way – in fact, many ways – they better meet the needs of mattress shoppers.
Even though online mattresses have been sold for over a decade now, many shoppers still have the same reaction:
Why would I buy a mattress that I can’t try out first?
People who have done some research know why:
…Because bed-in-a-box mattresses give you better value for every dollar spent.
…Because people tend to make the same expensive mistakes when they shop at mattress stores.
…And because… well… we’ve already gone through this same debate with books, then clothing, then furniture, then groceries – pretty much all other household items we can now order online.
Those are all good points. But they still aren’t the best argument for skipping the store and buying a mattress online.
Any company that succeeds where it seemingly shouldn’t offers clues to how that market really works.
We see this in many areas: In hockey, the smallest player on the pro team is exceptionally skilled and strong on the puck, showcasing the importance of puck possession in winning hockey games. The rural restaurant that gets hundreds of customers to make the drive in from the big city demonstrates the importance of both a mouthwatering menu and creating a charming experience for each customer. And the thriving online mattress company that doesn’t let you try out their bed before you buy suggests that they offer something above and beyond what the billion-dollar mattress chains do.
The exceptions that defy the rule aren’t just lucky – they’re evidence of their own higher value!
The deck is stacked against an online mattress company hoping to survive for even a few years. The industry is very competitive. TV and radio advertising are prohibitively expensive in major markets. Big chains and established brands have had a 100-year head start in gaining customer awareness and securing key suppliers.
Without a product for people to try out in person, how can an online startup hope to compete?
Simple – they do these three things exceedingly well…
The e-commerce world has a word for the highest possible achievement in merchandising: “touchable.”
These companies have been so successful at selling their products online in large part due to their fantastic websites. When done well, it’s like you’re experiencing the products in person. These companies anticipate your questions with clearly articulated graphics and tables. They give you extremely detailed high-resolution photos and interactive page features. They offer you as much information as you need to decide, and more.
By demonstrating impeccable standards, these companies earn your trust and make you feel that with every interaction you can expect the same high standards.
Successful online mattress companies do the same thing. They set standards high and gradually entice you to buy.
|How good mattress websites earn your trust|
Now contrast that with what you see on a typical website from a traditional furniture or mattress company:
- Low-resolution images against a photoshopped background;
- Brief blurbs or bulleted that to cover all features;
- Trademarked terms without context;
- Sales pricing without original prices for reference (if a price is even listed at all!).
Mattress stores have a very good reason to leave online shoppers with so much uncertainty: it’s what drives customers to the store. And once in the store, the professional sales team can take over with their persuasive routines.
Beyond its online storefront, the best way a mattress company can impress its customers is through its policies. Here are two that are driving the online mattress trend.
Mattress stores are one of the few remaining places where customers need to haggle in order to get fair value. Paying the sticker price (even when that sticker price is a sale price) means spending hundreds of dollars more than necessary. If you don’t have strong negotiating skills, be prepared to pay more for your mattress than your neighbour did.
Outside of promotional periods like Black Friday or Boxing Week, online mattress companies offer the same deals to every customer.
Trial Periods and Refunds
What if you don’t love the bed you just bought? Most brick-and-mortar mattress stores offer some kind of satisfaction guarantee on regular stock. But trying to implement these guarantees reveals all kinds of hidden costs that make the overall process more expensive.
Examples of added costs when returning a mattress in-store:
- A restocking fee for returning the mattress
- Having to purchase a new mattress protector for the guarantee to take effect
- One-time reselection locking you into the store’s current inventory
(even if you don’t like or can’t afford any of their other mattresses)
- Additional delivery charge for the reselection
- Cost difference offered only as store credit
Now compare this with the online companies.
Online mattress companies help customers greatly reduce the risk of buying the wrong mattress by offering sleep trials. A sleep trial allows a shopper to try out the mattress at home from anywhere between 30 days to a handful of months. During a sleep trial, a customer has the option to return the mattress for a full refund. All you need to do is contact the company – they’ll arrange for the mattress to be picked up and sent to a local charity or recycling facility.
A full refund means the full freedom to continue shopping until you find the mattress that’s right for you. That is what is meant by “risk-free trial.”
Companies rarely go out of business for selling great products at good prices. So when the large and longstanding companies start to falter, people look for signs of industry disruptors.
That’s why analysts were quick to place bed-in-a-box mattress companies among the primary causes for the recent bankruptcy of one American mattress giant and the current stock slump of Canada’s biggest mattress chain. The competitive ecosystem is putting pressure on companies who are no longer effectively catering to the needs of their customers.
It’s clear what is happening: what was considered a good deal a few years ago is no longer so.
For the Canadian mattress chain listed above, the article mentions how the company relied on raising prices on merchandise in order to keep revenue numbers up to expectations. And those price increases were “typically passed through to consumers.” It’s understandable how mattress shoppers would feel like they were getting less value for the same products and sales experience.
Online mattress companies are uniquely positioned to offer all kinds of cost savings that traditional mattress companies cannot. The result is a better value for the price, no matter whether it’s in the budget category or all the way up to the luxury segment.
Why can online mattresses companies sell their products for less?
The best online mattress companies succeed because they compete on their own strengths. They focus on what they do best and apply it to where their bigger competitors struggle to keep up.
Like survival of the fittest, online mattress companies that don’t do a great job at the three things above quickly disappear from the scene. The ones left standing are still in business because they offer something that resonates well with customers. They’ve competed under the most strenuous market pressures and squared off against the biggest players – and emerged thriving!
We’re already seeing further signs of how the mattress market is shifting due to online competition. Big mattress chains are hurting, and the traditional brands are coming out with their own bed-in-a-box lineups to respond to the change in consumer tastes.
Together, an aging business model and a new generation eager to try something new are sending more and more people to the Internet in the hunt for the perfect night’s sleep.
Ready to learn more before you buy your next mattress?
Mattress-Reviews.com includes details on sleep trails, refund policies, and additional fees for every mattress it has reviewed.
Unlike the majority of review websites, Mattress-Reviews.com sends each mattress to a certified engineering firm for testing. Not only does this ensure proper and consistent methodology, it allows for accurate comparisons across all mattresses. For instance, if you were wondering about edge support or motion isolation for a particular mattress, you will be able to see exactly how it stacks up with dozens of other models, to a precise detail. This reduces reviewer subjectivity, and increases your odds of buying a mattress you’ll love.
Finally, our comprehensive collection of mattress shopping resources can help you better navigate the other main considerations in buying a new bed.
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- On February 19, 2019