Are you excited to shop for your next mattress? If you’re like most people, probably not. That first night’s sleep on a beautiful new mattress can be delightful, but before you get there, you have to navigate a sea of high pressure sales tactics from pushy commission-based salespeople who’ll insist that if you spend any less than $1,500, you might as well sleep on a pile of garbage. Well rest easy, friends! There is a way to skip the miserable part of shopping and get right to enjoying a luxurious, affordable mattress. The answer is jumping aboard the bed-in-a-box craze.
A huge percentage of the nation’s shopping now takes place online, but mattresses were long exempt from this because of the perception that they had to be “test-driven” before purchase. However, savvy entrepreneurs could see how upsetting the process of mattress shopping had been, and came up with a way to utilize new technology to design a mattress that not only conforms to its owner’s needs but is also much more affordable to produce and ship.
The Origins of the Idea
The first memory foam mattress available exclusively online was launched by the BedInABox company in 2007. Since then, many more similar companies have cropped up. That does require a bit of research on the part of the consumer, but in the end, we win because these companies are all competing with each other. That keeps prices fair and encourages new innovations.
The problem with most major traditional mattress manufacturers is that they rely heavily on middlemen and maintain thousands of brick-and-mortar stores. They are also busy quietly buying each other out and consolidating, meaning that there are fewer and fewer players controlling thousands of mattress styles and brand names. Currently, Serta Simmons Holdings LLC and Tempur-Sealy International represent 65.6% of all mattress sales. The top 20 companies together hold 90.8% of all bedding sales.
The Benefit to Consumers
All of these factors combine to drive prices up for consumers. But early online mattress distributors saw the potential to turn this traditional sales model on its head and have experienced incredible success. Even the big guys are trying to get in on the bed-in-a-box craze now.
The biggest benefit for you, the consumer, is probably convenience. From the comfort of your home (or anywhere really), you can explore your options, read reviews, and compare models. Once you place your order, all you have to do is wait a few days for your mattress to arrive in a box that hardly seems big enough to hold one. It will expand almost immediately after opening, but it does take a couple of days to reach its full size.
There is one hurdle that bed-in-a-box companies have had to overcome – the perception that a mattress that arrives compressed to a fraction of its full size couldn’t possibly be comfortable or long-lasting. But time and thousands of satisfied customers have turned the tide on public opinion. These beds are technological marvels, every bit as good, if not better, than conventional models.
It’s true that you can’t usually try out your bed-in-a-box before you buy it. To address this problem, many companies offer no-hassle trial periods and free returns that allow for a few nights’ sleep to assess how the mattress works for you.
These companies also work very hard to provide easy-to-understand details about their mattresses that can help you make the right choice up front. Whether you are looking for a particular thickness, firmness, or method to compare brands, you’ll find that many online mattress retailers go the extra mile to make your purchase successful and pleasant.
If you do end up needing to return your mattress, in most cases you won’t need to pay any fees, shipping or otherwise. Repacking an expanded mattress isn’t possible for the average consumer, and because the mattress companies cannot sell a used mattress, they often attempt instead to find a local charity to donate it to.
But because of concerns about bed bugs and general hygiene, it’s not always so simple. When you return a mattress purchased online, it is also quite conceivable that the company will send a junk hauler over to take a virtually brand new product to the dump. The good news is that all of the major bed-in-a-box companies are willing to work with their customers to find the best solution for a necessary return. If you are aware of a needy organization, family, or individual, just ask the company to help you get the mattress there.
Right now, competition in this space is working just as it should to benefit you as the consumer. According to USA Today, “The online mattress business really went from nothing to a $1.5 billion business in the blink of an eye. This whole industry has been disrupted by the idea that maybe you don’t have to try the mattress before you buy it.”
Maybe not, indeed. With a business model that saves costs at all levels of production and increasingly agile and responsive customer service, more and more mattress shoppers are making the shift to a bed-in-a-box. Says one enthusiastic reviewer on Buzzfeed, “My husband and I spent two years looking for mattresses, and the last thing we thought we would ever do is impulse buy a mattress online without even laying on it. Well, I’ve never been so happy I took the leap! … No chemical smells, no hassle, just a great night’s sleep.”