Given that there have been so many new companies that sell mattresses directly to consumers online, I thought I would give my thoughts on what it would take to be successful in that market.  A lot of companies have already been very successful in this space, but there are so many new companies coming in that it might be tough to sustain that success for the long-term.  Here are my thoughts.

Free Shipping

I think regardless of the industry, offering free shipping is becoming more and more important.  Consumers just don’t want to pay for shipping.  Furthermore, it’s quite a surprise if someone thinks the mattress will cost a certain amount, only to be surprised that it is actually an extra $150 because of shipping.  It’s the right thing to do for consumers and it will make sure that companies can maximize their conversion rates and get the most effectiveness out of their advertising budgets (see this article for more on why free shipping is so important).

Amazing Customer Service

If an online mattress company has bad customer service, they just aren’t going to last.  They will be found out and outed on the review sites very quickly.  The consumer is taking a leap of faith by not trying the mattress out ahead of time.  They need a great customer service team to be ready to handle any issue they might have to really make the business work well.

Savvy Digital Marketers

There are several ways to be successful online selling mattresses.  A company could get lots of press on a regular basis.  Casper has done this very effectively.  If a company has the opportunity, they should certainly take advantage of it.  Companies can also develop great relationships with affiliates / mattress reviewers and make sure that they have very favorable things written about them across the Internet.  Furthermore, advertising with Google AdWords is a very effective and widely-used tool to get attention to a company’s website.  To make AdWords and other online advertising platforms work, companies need to make sure they have a very savvy team of digital marketers working for them.  If they don’t, they might not be able to make the math work for them.  With more companies coming in, advertising costs are only going to go up.  For that reason, it’s all that more important to have an experienced team of marketers who can get the most out of every advertising dollar spent.

Product That Differentiates

It’s easy to make a memory foam mattress.  It’s easy to make a hybrid foam mattress.  What’s difficult is to convince consumers why your company’s product and design is different and better than other companies.  Companies should consider how good and unique their design is and how easily a competitor could copy it.  They should seek to make their design as easy to understand, quality, and unique as possible.  At a certain point, product quality will matter for long-term success.

Great Reviews

Companies should do whatever they can to make sure they get good reviews online.  There are several sites dedicated to reviewing mattresses.  There are other sites that aggregate a lot of individual reviews (Goodbed is a big one, for example).  Either way, lots of people turn to those sites before they ever consider making a purchasing decision.  Companies should figure out ways to make sure the reviews that show up on those sites are as favorable for them as possible.  This might mean encouraging happy customers to go onto those sites and put up a review.

mattress wars

Agility

The online mattress market is always changing, and it is changing very quickly.  Companies should be agile and ready to adapt quickly to those changes.  They have to have a flexible management that can make quick decisions.  Lethargic, bureaucratic organizations will be left behind in the long-term.

Good Story

We’re seeing better and better stories come out with each new mattress company.  Some companies are donating a mattress to a homeless shelter after every 10 sales.  Other companies are doing similar giveaways.  These companies have great stories where they aren’t just making a profit, but rather they are also doing lots of good for their community and the world.  At a certain point, consumers will pay attention such stories, so it’s important for a company to have a good story to tell, especially when compared to others.

Those are some of the main things I think will be critical for being successful for online mattress companies going forward.  There’s certainly other things companies should keep in mind, but I think this is a pretty good list.