In a past blog post, I talked about consumers using their mobile devices to shop for mattresses on the internet while looking at the actual product in the store – or “show-rooming,” as many call it. I want to shift gears today and talk about the mattresses being bought online instead of in your store.
When I worked for Serta, I actually had a very close look at some large companies that sold online and know what they did in volume. Companies like Sam’s Club, Target, Amazon, US Mattress, Shop NBC and HSN, just to name a few. I would never give up those numbers, of course, but I can tell you they were substantial. And that was seven years ago. I realize I am going way out on a limb here, but I don’t think I would be crazy to suggest that the amount of mattresses being sold digitally (either online or by television) is something over $600 million. If you consider we are close to $13 billion at retail and then figure that e-commerce accounts for about 10% of all retail, and then back it down because a mattress is a big ticket item that is hard to ship, do you think I am far off?
Would you have ever imagined that people would buy a mattress without testing it out first? It happens every day, all day long, and we as an industry rarely ever talk about this channel of distribution. Why? For one, it is incredibly hard to measure, given all the players and the fact that nobody breaks out the category when reporting. Is another reason because it is this great little secret that we want to keep hidden and out of sight, hoping that nobody discovers how great this piece of the pie is? Is it just an afterthought to our primary business so we just do what we need to do to have a presence?
I don’t know what it is, but shouldn’t we be talking more about this as an industry? It is a $600 million business after all! Is our share of online business healthy, given the type of product we sell – or should it be better? Are people shopping online to avoid the bad experience they might face at a retail store? When a consumer starts the shopping process for a bed, does the mattress industry look good in the “discovery phase” prior to getting in their car? Is that sooooo good that we alleviate the need for them to visit a store?
So let’s debate, shall we? What company does e-commerce the best when it comes to buying a mattress? How can we as an industry get better at it? What are the roadblocks to driving business online? Should we drive business online? Share your thoughts in the comments section!