By Gordon Hecht, Senior Regional Manager, Strategic Retail Group, Serta Simmons Bedding

They seem to be popping up like dandelions in springtime. One on each corner in town, another one in the Mega Club Store, and still another in the mass market off-price retail store. Everywhere you look there is another place opening where you can buy a mattress.

Sure, you may have thought about adding mattresses to your product mix—you’ve heard about the excellent margins—blending around 50 percent. That ties in with low inventory, small space requirements and major brand advertising to make it a very attractive prospect. On the operations side, mattresses rarely or never dent or scratch: and installation is quick. Plus, there’s no need for your customer to worry if the color will match other items in the home. 

While retail is never easy, you would imagine that operating a mattress gallery in your store may be easier than managing your current consumer electronics and major appliance product store. Your greatest concern probably is, “is there room in my market for another place to buy a mattress?”

Every town is a little different, but in most areas, the answer is YES! Mattresses are a need purchase, rather than a want purchase. Think about when your customer’s fridge or washer conks out, they need to buy a new one. It’s the same with a mattress set. When people are sick and tired of not getting a restful night’s sleep they need to buy a mattress. We only need to look back at the darkest days of the last recession: Mattress sets outpaced every other category of home furnishings purchases. Sure there was a dip, but not as severe as the rest of the market. 

Consumer electronics and major appliance retailers have a great advantage over other mattress retail outlets because there is a distinct overlap in buyer audience between these categories. Consider your next shopper looking for a dishwasher. It may still be working, but not cleaning as well as it did when it was new. In most cases, the likely influencer in the buying decision is female, often age 30-55. She has had the same dishwasher for 10 or 11 years, and probably should have replaced it 3 years ago. She has been attracted to low price promo models in the $200-400 range, but when shown benefits of upgraded models will spend $600 or more. Although she has done online research, she is only vaguely certain on which benefits and features she needs. If zero percent credit is available, she is likely to increase her purchase amount.

Above all, she has a concern about how delivery and installation will interrupt her home and already overbooked schedule. 

Does this sound familiar?

Take a peek at a typical mattress shopper. Overwhelmingly, the final choice is female directed. Promotional mattresses appeal to the 25-35 year old group and premium mattresses appeal to 35-55 (and up). She has had the same bed for 10-12 years and probably should have replaced it 2-4 years ago. She has seen the ads for $299 and $399, but more likely has budgeted $600. However, the average master bedroom mattress purchase hovers around $1100. She has studied reviews, blogs and websites, but still only has an ambiguous notion of what she needs. If you have 24 or 36 month financing available, she will pop for the upgraded adjustable base. And, once she chooses something, she insists delivery is convenient and on her schedule. 

What this means to you is that every time you promote appliances, you are attracting a mattress buyer in to your store. It’s true that you should plan to invest in advertising to tell the world that you sell mattress sets, but your normal incoming shopper traffic is the same audience that mattress store owners would love to have in their store. 

You might have asked yourself “will my sales staff sell mattresses—can they understand it?” When it comes to mattresses, there are far fewer component parts, and it is easier to interact with a mattress than a gas range, which your shoppers never see in operation in your store. Learning the nuts and bolts of mattresses takes time, but not as much as the next premium laundry pair that you bring in. 

Product knowledge aside, your team will have to learn the people skills of selling mattresses. It starts with four or five discovery questions about why your shopper is dissatisfied with their current mattress, what sleep issues they have, who else sleeps in the bed, and if they watch TV, read or use a tablet/laptop in the bedroom. As simple as that sounds, your sales team can recommend a couple of choices that will upgrade your shoppers’ sleep and lifestyle. There are a couple of other do’s and don’ts, including giving a shopper the time and space they need, introducing mattress enhancements like protectors, pillows and power adjustable bases. Factory product and sales training, followed by your review and reinforcement, will ensure that your sales team maximizes the shopper’s experience and converts them to paying customers.

Now that you have decided to move forward into the profitable world of mattress retailing, you’ll need to choose a supplier. It’s easier than you would think. 

There are over 750 mattress brands available in the US. But, luckily for you, the industry’s top five brands dominate about 75 percent of all units sold. One brand, Sleep Number, is sold through their own stores. The remaining top four brands, Serta Simmons Bedding and Tempurpedic-Sealy, are sold through independent, regional and national stores. All four brands support AVB/BrandSource and have unique programs to help you learn the mattress business and create a display and selling environment. Serta Simmons, for example, offers a custom designed Sleep Source Gallery fixture ensemble requiring less than 700 square feet of your showroom space and includes room for 15 display models and an interactive touchscreen to help your shopper discover their perfect mattress.

Gordon Hecht, Senior Regional Manager
Strategic Retail Group, Serta Simmons Bedding

Check out the mattress programs offered through AVB/BrandSource at the upcoming Convention or contact your local representative for more information. Each mattress partner is able to make a local customized presentation to help you exceed your goals.  

YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.