Evolution Or Revolution?

I was looking at a business opportunity the other day which caused me to go to Amazon and really drill down on the mattress offerings. I learned a few things about Amazon in the process…They account for 60% of the e-commerce sales growth over the last couple of years, have sales topping $107 billion and maintain a relationship with over 304 billion ACTIVE customers. Dave Perry wrote a great article at Furniture Today  in reference to this that in part, inspired this post. He points out that Amazon has a mattress category that is doing $125 million in sales and is growing every day. That number shouldn’t surprise us when they have a Zinus 12″ memory foam mattress with 4.5 stars in reviews from almost 3,000 people. Price? $298 in queen shipped via your Prime membership. Here are a few of my observations on where the mattress e-commerce business is. These are separate data points that have been swimming around in my head so let me put them together here and try to draw some conclusion at the end of it all.


  • We have been talking a lot about guys like Casper, Tuft and Needle and Leesa when it comes to e-commerce but how about e-tailers like Amazon, Wal-Mart, Overstock.com, and wayfair. While we are at it, let’s pay some respect to US-Mattress.com who has probably been doing this longer than anybody. When we speak of digital commerce should we include the hundreds of millions of dollars being sold by the shop television channels? My friends Pete Bils at Sleep Number and Bob Muenkel at Serta are close to getting their own shows on QVC they are selling so many beds. The list I have mentioned here doesn’t even call out the brick and mortar guys in the traditional channels that are driving their own sales on-line. Do we really think we have a handle on the size of this business?
  • Look at what is happening with the bedding producers. Some of the 2nd and 3rd tier bedding brands have been quietly working to create their own direct to consumer channels which is smart given the consolidation of retail. No need to hide that anymore because pretty much all of the big brands that I am aware, of have their own direct to consumer channel and are leaning into it. Hard. There is a lot of time and attention being given to this approach to market and that is not going to slow down from what I am being told. If this continues, how flat do things get? How are the retailers going to react?
  • Suppliers out there are working hard to take care of demand. You have HSM Solutions, Carpenter Foam, and A. Lava and Sons doing a great job by creating turn key programs that make it easier to get into the business.
  • Stir all of this together and consider my blog post about brand relevance vs. consumer reviews and you have an industry that is in a serious state of change. You might even call it a paradigm shift but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In my blog post The Rapid Rise of E-Commerce I point out the KeyBanc report that pegs the projected 2016 e-commerce volume at $755 million which would be a 4.6%  market share. I think it is bigger and will continue to grow in a significant way. Why?

  • Focus on the category by producers, suppliers and retailers when it comes to product development and digital marketing programs.
  • Low cost of entry, HOWEVER, if people are going to stick around they need to have funding and the “know how” on creating the right marketing message and how to place it cost effectively.
  • The acceptance of new products typically starts with a slice of the consumer market and grows out from there. In this case I think the millennial blazed the trail and made mattress shopping on line a reasonable thing to do. Now that the consumer reviews are pouring in on the positive side, others groups will consider buying a bed this way, expanding the appeal.
  • In many cases the retail experience is poor and a consumer would rather not spend their time shopping for a bed.
  • Our industry continues to do a bad job of making our products emotional and placing them in a light that tells the best story. We have raced to the bottom and we are selling a commodity more than ever. We are largely selling the thing instead of the benefit of the thing so when we do that price rules the day. Did I mention that there is a 12″ memory foam bed on line for $298?

Let’s say down the road that e-commerce grows to 10%. Maybe even a 20% market share. That means that 80% of mattress sales are still being done in the traditional channels. I am going to bet that much of the business below $1,000 will start to dry up in stores and the real game will be selling premium beds that are unique and deliver something great that not everyone has. Wouldn’t it be incredible if there was a bedding company out there with a product and story so compelling that it would be hard not to buy from them? A brand that delivered huge tickets over $3,000 and fat margins to select retailers everywhere? Maybe a company that grew beds on a farm in England, raised their own sheep for the wool, and was endorsed by the Queen herself? It sounds so familiar!  More on that next week! 🙂




Sit’N Sleep Golfs For A Cure

It was my pleasure to attend the Sit’N Sleep annual golf tournament this last week to benefit the Susan G. Koman foundation. The Koman foundation is the largest organization in the world when it comes to funding the fight against breast cancer, investing over $2.6 billion to find a way to beat this deadly disease.

Nelson kicks it off!

Nelson kicks it off!

Nelson Bercier, avid golfer and President of Sit’N Sleep, along with his team did an amazing job this year. It was my first time attending and I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it was. There were ugly golf pants, golf ball cannons, clubs that shoot balls with the help of a 22 caliber round of ammunition, and maybe something even more dangerous than that was the saki bomb/margarita station nestled deep in the middle of the course. (See it all in my short video.)

I am also lucky to be able to attend the Sleep Train charity event that benefits foster kids, the Seena Magowitz Golf Tournament that raises money to help fight pancreatic cancer, and the Ante 4 Autism celebrity poker tournament in Las Vegas. I bring these other events up because I am always impressed with how this industry rallies around charitable causes. As a group we donate our time, talent and resources to try and support each other in bringing awareness to causes that need our help and I love that about this crazy little industry.

In the past 10 months I have spent some time getting to know the Sit’N Sleep organization built by Larry Miller and Nelson Bercier. I knew early on these guys had created something special but it becomes even more clear when you attend an event like this. The culture they encourage is all about what is good for the team, not the individual. A selfless approach to doing business that looks down on the maverick, hotshot sales person that just wants to be top dog. In that spirit, they all came together to support the fight against a disease that claims over 40,000 lives every year. Their passion for their business and this cause are contagious and I can’t wait until next year.We launched Spink and Edgar at Sit’N Sleep because we thought if anyone could represent our product to the consumer it was these guys. We were right.

Catching up with a long time friend and loyal Q's Views reader Pattie Trigueros

Catching up with a long time friend and loyal Q’s Views reader Pattie Trigueros with Serta/Simmons.

I want to thank everyone at Sit’N Sleep. Not just for including me this year but for what you do to model all that is good in this industry. I sincerely appreciate every time you sell a Spink and Edgar or a bed made by Sherwood, and for the way you welcome me every time I walk into your office or store. What you did this week was incredible and you should all be very proud of the effort. I know this kind of thing takes a lot of work so to everybody that helped out…WELL DONE!

Even though my foursome didn’t win the event we had a blast. I want to give special thanks to Jeremy Bercier for inviting me to play with his group and to Mike and Bob for tolerating my poor play. Thanks for some great stories and a wonderful day on the course!

BONUS CONTENT: Check out our most recent Dos Marcos podcast where we talk about the big Magowitz Charity Event, my recent visit to Jordan’s Furniture and more.

Mark, Mike, Jeremy and Bob.

Mark, Mike, Jeremy and Bob.

The Value Of A Relationship

I went to my 30 year high school reunion this last weekend. Is it possible that I have been out of high school that long? I admit having mixed emotions about attending this event; a bunch of people in a room that remember younger versions of each other, all telling stories of how great their life is now. The reality of the weekend was that I had a blast. I was able to reunite with some of my original “wolfpack” from the class of 86 and it was incredible. I had not spent time with many of them for a very long time but it was so easy to fall right back into where we used to be. Conversations were effortless and for my small group we laughed until our stomachs hurt. I love them all and am so very grateful for those relationships.

My Class Of 86 Wolfpack- Yes there were more than two guys in it, they just didn't make it.

My Class Of 86 Wolfpack-
Yes there were more than two guys in it, they just didn’t make it.

How important are relationships to each of us in our personal lives? How about when it comes to our business? I have been told so many times that our industry is very relationship focused, even more than other industries. Is that true? It sure feels like it given the fact that we are not all that big as a group.

A great relationship can open a door, solve a problem, get you a price increase, keep out the competitors, save an account, GET YOU AN ACCOUNT, deliver inside information, or just be the glue that holds things together. So why is it that some of the big corporate types just don’t get it? I have seen it so many times when management, that really has no freaking clue what they are doing, comes in and moves people around in a territory or on an account because of some big master plan. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there is never a time to do this but if things are going well…the account is happy…you are profitable…and life in general is pretty dang good, why in the world would you disrupt a solid relationship? How many times have we watched this happen and as a result the bedding producer loses volume and the retailer gets upset. If you are selling at retail and a consumer walks through the door and ask for her favorite sales person “Maggie”, would you deny her that request and give her “Jim” instead?


Flip the coin for a minute. If you are buying anything substantial like…a company, a car, a house, a bedding line, a pillow line etc., does a solid relationship with the seller matter to you? Does that TRUST that exist, that bond you have, impact the intangibles of the deal? Harry Cornell from Leggett and Platt was probably one of the true legends in our industry when it came to building relationships. He developed them with the people he sold to and with the owners of the companies he bought. He told me once that those people and those relationships were the key to his success over time. I think he is right.


I have my “wolfpack” from high school but I have one in the mattress industry as well. Yes it helps me succeed at my job but it also gives my life meaning. The people that I trust and that trust me mean more than any job or financial outcome. My friends and relationships define me really. I am always there for them if needed and they for me, because you have to invest in people to really show them how much you care. That’s when the really good stuff happens.


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Creatives Are Courageous

So what did you think of this video? If you sat down to eat at a restaurant that featured a “little” dinner entertainment like the Petite Chef, would you go away impressed? Would you tell somebody?

Last week I wrote about Jordan’s Furniture and what an amazing job they do making an impact on their customers. They EARN the traffic and the business because they value a creative approach. Do you? Does it show? I know that I am a broken record on some of this but I want to hit this point hard today because I really believe that this incredible industry that we all work in could be so much more.

Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist, the only problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” Given all of the boxes that organizations put us in expecting us to produce an outcome, I can see how this statement is true. I have been involved in many business meetings over the years that have been billed as brainstorms run by people that really don’t understand what a real brainstorm is. They all start with great intentions, where people are throwing ideas out, getting excited about a new way to sell something or create something, and either the leader of the meeting or someone else inevitably squashes it by pointing out why it couldn’t possibly work. What happens if you let that meeting run wild, force rank the best ideas, and then figure out how to make something work instead of the default of why it won’t?

The award winning Ring is a doorbell. A doorbell that does some really amazing things but at the end of the day it is a doorbell. Luggage didn’t used to have wheels. Beds didn’t used to tell you anything about your sleep. Retail stores didn’t used to have IMAX theaters. I have spent time with bedding producers and retailers that are concerned about their business surviving. They talk about the competition, macro economic conditions, and the complexity of marketing today as reasons for the problems they face and I totally get that. Mostly now being a small business owner in this industry. HOWEVER, all of the great ideas are not gone! How hard are you working to bring creative ideas to the table? How often do you try them? What kind of creative people do you have on your staff and do you allow them to be creative? If you don’t invest the time or in the kind of people that can take you outside of where you are, the result will never be what it could be.

The challenge with this is to proceed with caution. Inspire the creative approach to business but be calculated in your execution. Try in small doses when you can. Fail cheaply when you can. Make sure that everything intersects DIRECTLY with your business objective in a way that can be clearly measured. I have made this mistake myself and its easy to do when you get caught up in the fun of the new idea.

I loved working at Leggett and Platt so when people ask me why I left a great job at the age of 46 when I had two kids, I tell them its because Simon Spinks has created something so incredible in the business model of “growing beds” that I had to be a part of it. I was inspired. What inspires you? Chase after it because that is where the truly great stuff will happen.



The Willy Wonka Of The Furniture Industry

I recently wrote about my upcoming trip to the annual Seena Magowitz event and as expected it was a huge success. Dave Perry does a great write up about it in Furniture Today so check that out. He even gave Kinsley and I some love as he reviewed our performance as the events auctioneers. I am happy to say that we were able to extract $125,000 this year from the very generous attendees so thanks again to everybody that participated.

Instead of golfing this year I went on a private tour of Jordan’s Furniture, hosted by Peter Bolton their COO and Lorie Silva their Director of Bedding Operations or the “Bedding goddess” as some refer to her. Yes I love to golf but I have been in the industry for 25 years and have never been to Jordan’s so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity. Boy am I glad I went.

Here are a few facts for you to consider about this furniture mecca.  It was started way back in 1918 by Samuel Tatelman and in the late 30’s his son Edward joined the business. Edward’s sons Barry and Eliot took over after that that and grew it into what is is today. They have 7 locations and get over 3 million people in their stores annually. They were purchased in 1999 by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. when reported sales were estimated at $250 million so one can only imagine where those numbers are today.

I can sum up my big takeaway from this trip in a single word. VISION. I was talking to Peter about the early years and heard him speak of his father who was an Orthopedic Surgeon and how conversations with his father grew into a VISION where he thought selling a mattress should be about more than the item itself. Instead, linking it to human form and health. Lorie’s VISION of turning the entire mattress category into a place where the consumer could come and learn about the product the right way. Dressing her sales force in white lab coats only AFTER they had earned their stripes learning about sleep and sleep equipment in an 8 week training course.  The VISION of Elliot as he stood on top of a trash heap and spoke of how awesome it was going to be when they transformed that spot into “Beantown” one of their newest locations that gets over 1 million visitors a year. If that’s not enough there are IMAX theater’s, dancing water shows and a Bean Stalk ropes course to entertain the Jordan’s guest as they shop.

If your business delivered a great customer experience, sold quality merchandise at fair prices, and made significant profits for your shareholders, you would be pretty happy with that right? Jordan’s didn’t stop there. The VISION was to create such an incredible place that it has become a tourist destination! This is a place where families from all over Boston have come to shop AND CREATE MEMORIES. If you are having fun, will you be in a state of mind to spend money? Have you ever been to a tourist destination on vacation and hit the shops in town? Did you happily spend some money?

This is the kind of thinking that gets me fired up. They are without a doubt the Willy Wonka of the furniture industry. Not just a place to buy a sofa or a mattress, but a place to come and EXPERIENCE something truly unique. The best part of this for me is the heart that goes into every detail. These guys aren’t building these stores just to sell product. They are building these EXPERIENCES to WOW their customer. To exceed the wildest expectation and earn those big eyes they see on the face of every kid that walks through the front door. When you watch Peter and Lori and the rest of the team at Jordan’s talk about their store, they tell the story with great enthusiasm as if it were the first time they had shown the place off to somebody. That passion and excitement is contagious and the transfer of that to the customer pays big dividends.

Congrats to every Jordan’s employee out there because I know it takes all of you to deliver on the promise of the brand. You guys have accomplished something outrageously good. Well done!

Water Show

Water Show

Ropes Course

Ropes Course

Jordan's Furniture in Reading, MA

Jordan’s Furniture in Reading, MA

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