10 Things I Would Change About The Mattress Industry

Improving theĀ Mattress Shopping Experience

1. Get rid of the Discounters – For some reason it seems that everyone who once sold used cars suddenly decided to enter the mattress industry years ago. Nothing is more frustrating to consumers than having to “haggle” over mattress prices. Thankfully the Internet, and more competition is slowly making this antiquated selling process go the way of the dodo. A trained monkey could discount. There are much more important things to helping someone get a good night’s sleep than “taking another $100 off that set, if you buy right now.” Consumers are getting smarter and realizing that if the retailer can suddenly cut the price in half, then just maybe they were already priced too high. And most likely, you will never, ever get a good value in a place that only emphasizes discounting an inflated price.

2. Place the Same Names on Mattresses – Having 15 different names for almost the exact same mattress is stupid. Yes, I know there may be a few fiber or foam exclusives for larger retailers. But for the consumer its a confusing nightmare to try and compare mattresses from different stores. Put the same mattresses everywhere and let the retailers compete on service, expertise and price. This is essentially what Tempur-pedic has done with great success. They even placed minimum prices making it very easy for the customer to focus on comfort and not spend four days wasting gas to compare mattress sets to save a whopping $50.

3. Have Real Sales – The mattress industry is always having a sale, or so the joke goes. The reason for this is that people only purchase a mattress on average every 7 years. When its time to replace a mattress set, a retailer has about 48 hours to capture that business and consumers will only buy when there is a sense of urgency, or a sale. This is a recipe for disaster. I would like to see more retailers adopt a true, every day low price structure and then each month feature a selection of mattress sets that are truly on sale. Instead, we get promotional themes each month and basically the same “sale” prices all year.

In the mattress industry, the definition of a sale typically is getting your customers excited. In the real world, a sale is a short term price reduction to generate excitement and more business. The real world definition of a sale would be far better for both the mattress industry and consumers.

4. Pricing – I have visited multiple stores from the same chain and received a different “deal” from each one. This is insane. If you are not going to have posted prices that are competitive with the rest of your market, take the darn price tags down and adopt the “name your own price” strategy. Customers don’t want to visit 20 different stores and get 20 different prices. This is one of many reasons this industry is so disliked. The ONLY reason the price should change is to beat a competitive offer on a comparable mattress. And you should never get a different price from a different store of the same chain!

5. Reduce the Many Options – It seems that if you own some warehouse space, you are probably in the mattress manufacturing business. There are over 700 mattress manufacturers out there flooding the market with junk. The irony is that most are buying the same coil systems and foam layers, but of course they are “so much better than the market leaders.” If you are truly building a better mouse trap, your product will rise to the top. That is one reason Tempur-pedic so quickly rose to the top of mattress manufacturers and so many me-too knockoffs have tried to piggyback on their success. I suppose there is enough business to go around for everyone, but the industry could use a good reduction in the number of bad mattresses that hit the market. Unfortunately, it will take many more bad consumer experiences for that to happen.

6. Stop the Shady Practices – I have heard so many nightmare stories about retailers delivering the wrong mattress, going out of business before delivering the mattress purchase, refusing to exchange or refund money paid when there are problems, selling refurbished or used mattresses, etc etc. I think these types of practices are on the decline as more market leaders emerge on the retail side. But there are still far too many complaints. This is why I strongly encourage people to do their homework. Buy from retailers with a history of taking care of customers. If they only have one location and have only been in business 1 year, be wary before you plunk down a couple of grand for your new mattress. They may have their doors locked and skip town with your cash and you may never get your mattress.

7. Offer a Real Warranty – A WARRANTY THAT DOES NOT COVER BODY IMPRESSIONS IS WORTHLESS!! There are a few manufacturers that claim that body impressions are normal and therefore are not covered. Body impressions are normal on an innerspring mattress. There is no way to put soft fiber and foam on top of innersprings and never have any impressions. But at 1.5″ and above, that is unacceptable. If you give your mattress a 25 year warranty, but then say it doesn’t cover body impressions, it truly is a meaningless warranty. I’ll save you from the numerous horror stories I have heard over the years from frustrated consumers.

I encourage consumers to buy from retailers that handle warranty claims for their manufacturers. You have a lot more leverage when you can contact your local store manager about warranty issues than if you deal with some call center in Timbuktu. Retailers are usually much faster in processing warranty claims and salespeople are more likely to make sure you are satisfied. If you don’t know, ask your salesperson who handles warranty claims and ask to see their warranty policy in writing before your purchase.

8. Do We Really Need Pillowtops? – One of the silliest marketing gimmicks the mattress industry ever created is pillowtop mattresses. There is NO REASON to have a pillowtop. You can make a plush mattress every bit as soft as a pillowtop, in fact you can insert the exact same materials and yield the exact feel. But pillowtops sound sexy, and can justify a slightly higher price because of more “manufacturing costs.” And of course, the softer you go, the more likely you will have body impressions – the number one customer complaint with regard to mattresses. Customers need to forget about how the top looks and focus on which mattress feels the best to their bodies.

9. Firm Means Hard – It seems somewhere in the past a whole generation of consumers, chiropractors and doctors decided that everyone needs a firm mattress. Firm, to the mattress industry, means hard. We all need good (or firm) support, which most better quality mattresses do provide. But support is only half the equation. Comfort is critical too. A mattress that is too hard will cause uncomfortable pressure points, especially for side sleepers. Comfort is relative to your weight, sleep position and personal preference. That is why it is so important to test a mattress before buying and why nobody can determine the right mattress for you, except you.

10. Trial Periods – It is imperative that every retailer offer at least a 30 day period to test a mattress by sleeping on it. This is the only way you will positively know that you have picked the correct mattress solution. There should be minimal strings – paying for a second delivery and a small return fee – the mattress will be considered used and sold at a loss. The consumer should never be forced to pay for a trial, buy any stain protection, or forced to pay excessively for the exchange. Before buying any mattress, ask for a copy of their return/exchange policies and read them carefully. DON’T GET STUCK WITH A MATTRESS THAT IS UNCOMFORTABLE. If its bad or defective after 30 days, most likely it will not get any better.

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