We’ve all seen it. The rise of the online, rolled and compressed, bed in a box mega e-tailers. Their ads follow us endlessly on social media, in airports, on buses. Hundreds of companies have risen up in the last few years to challenge the traditional brick and mortar mattress buying model, the hovering salesman with his tie dangling in your face as you lie upon one mattress after another, under the glare of fluorescent lighting. It’s like getting an alien probing, scary, horrifying, the worst way to try out mattress.
Order online, and you likely pay a fourth of the brick and mortar store price, because you’re not paying rent, company salaries, employee 401K’s, utility bills, and middleman fees and commissions. And, you can order a bed, it gets delivered to your doorstep, you can try it out for 30 days or more, and if you don’t like it, you send an email or make a quick call, and the mattress will be picked up and all of your money will be given back to you so you can try another bed. It’s absolutely perfect. Why didn’t the brick and mortar retail side of the business see this coming?
The easy answer is that the traditional mattress industry was very resistant to change. After all, mattresses hadn’t changed much in a hundred years, and the business was self perceived as an invincible, untouchable American institution. The CEO of The Mattress Buyer Guide was doing the bed in a box thing waaay before Casper and other big etailers. He could see it coming back then, in 2005, ten years before Casper, Tuft And Needle, Loom And Leaf, and others were even invented.
Marc Anderson mentioned it to friends in the business? Is Sealy, Simmons, Serta, and Tempur-Pedic, are they watching this? In 2007 Marc launched a web business selling pre-compressed pure latex mattresses directly to a consumers door. It was a huge success, from the start. He remembers thinking “there is a revolution coming, one that will reinvent the mattress buying world”. And he was right. By the time the brick and mortar segment of the marketplace realized their fate, it was too late. This year, Mattress Firm, one of the largest conventional mattress retailers, filed for bankruptcy, not have an alternative model in place.
The reality is that there are consumers who want to feel the mattress, test drive it, before they buy. But when you weigh the convenience and now the safety and security of buying online, many people are switching gears about how they shop. The biggest reason behind it all?
Mattress review sites, especially true third party sites that aren’t pimping for manufacturers. They provide real time opinions and suggestions, videos, blog content, and a pooled resource to get a general consensus about which etailer has the best mattress option. The internet is like one giant mattress department store. Lots of choices, plenty of reviews, and with competition furious and heated, almost every etailer that survives more than a year is likely going to be a safe bet, wanting to deliver a pretty good product. Faster than a speeding bullet, the mattress industry was disrupted by a new breed of retailers and marketing wizards.