Too Many Choices: 250 Bed In A Box E-tailers Now Compete For Your Business-How To Narrow Down The Options To A Chosen Few
As one of the original bed in a box retailers who pioneered the online mattress store explosion with my own brand of latex mattresses, long before companies like Casper, Nectar, Purple, and others came along, I watched the how mattress shopping was reinvented in a matter of two short years.
It rose like a sleeping dragon from a draconian and dreaded but necessary human experience, to a sleek and glossy, one stop shop, click of a mouse, retail sensation that consumers loved. Suddenly everyone fell in love with the novel concept of choosing a mattress online that sold for far less than the old school, bulky and overdressed Sealy Posture-Whatever mattress.
Instead, with the click of a mouse, your adventure began, and after a few days, a fairly manageable sized box magically arrived on your doorstep, the contents of which would unfurl and expand suddenly into a queen or even king sized bed.
Your new unicorn mattress was soft, bouncy, sumptuous, and so cool, that you told all of your friends and family, and spent hours chatting on social media about your experience. First it was Casper and a few other companies that reinvented the already decade old technology of mattress compression and shipping in a tube shaped box, and then, as if out of nowhere, dozens, then hundreds more emerged online.
The reason? The technology was widely available to roll, compress, vacuum pack, and ship foam mattresses, in a box, on a UPS or FedEx truck directly to your home.
Since not one company had a patent on the technology, the bed in a box business became the Wild West, having exploded into an online market where over 250 companies crowd the inter-webs, offering their version of the best mattress on the planet.
Now, 5-6 years on from the first wave of bed in a box mattress retailers, consumers are beginning to discover that the bed in a box marketplace has become so congested and so crowded that it has become too confusing, too complicated, and it might be easier just getting in the car and driving back to the Mattress King on the corner.
How the hell are you supposed to pick the right mattress, and how do you know whether it’s a quality product that will be comfortable and supportive, and that it will last a long time? Are they all basically the same at this point?
Thankfully, there are also dozens of mattress reviews sites to help wade through the endless brands of memory foam, latex, hybrid coil, air, and other mattress types that make mattress shopping confusing and impossible to evaluate.
Problem is, most of the mattress review sites are actually owned by the very online mattress stores they promote, offering gratuitous reviews and videos and raking in millions of dollars in affiliate and marketing kickbacks.
You can check out our list of these review sites, which have back stories and histories of shady transactions and money laundering, court cases, and seedy relationships with their so-called “third party review site” partners.
This site, which was the very first mattress independent review site, published in 2007, is one of the only platforms actually edited and managed by an industry authority on mattresses and manufacturing of bedding products.
Almost all other review sites are owned by marketing companies that have no practical experience or technical expertise in mattress design, textiles, components, or fabrication, and can only offer a lay person’s description of how a mattress feels, not how it will perform based on the components used, the facility where it was made, the techniques used to laminate, sew, and build the mattresses you are considering.
They can’t speak about why a warranty for one brand is 20 years vs. 10 years, why one company doesn’t glue their foam layers together, and another does not, whether or not one vendor imports their foam from China or procures it from a U.S. based company, and on and on. As a result, these marketing “review sites” really offer little if any productive information that helps you discriminate the good from the bad.
Out of 250 online bed in a box retailers, only about 40 or so offer what we regard as a quality product that we can comfortably recommend based on the information we procure in our research. Many companies are not even mentioned, so we have really helped to remove some of the confusion if only by paring down the selection to a manageable number of options.
Another problem that overwhelms consumers is the confusing nomenclature and descriptions used in the business.Trying to determine which mattress type if the best option for you if you have a back problem, if you have restless leg syndrome, if your partner moves around too much, or if you want a soft mattress vs a very firm one takes forever to untangle as you scroll through endless web sites.
Trying to categorize mattresses is not really that complicated, but the sheer vastness of web sites that sell foam bed in a box mattresses makes it hard to quickly narrow down the choices. We have a variety of resources for our readers, including the following pages which can help organize and narrow down your search options.
Our Trusted Dealer Program– Chosen from over 250 brands, we carefully reviewed and evaluated customer satisfaction and created a curated list of just over 40 mattress options, by category. When even have exclusive links so you get our best negotiated deal.
Mattress By Type– Understanding mattress categories, and how to determine which mattress type is the best fit for you and your family. This helps narrow down your options even further, making choosing one of our curated brands even easier.
What You Should Pay– Our tips and pointers as well as guidelines, on what you should expect to pay for a particular kind of mattress option.
Avoiding Mattress Industry Scams– How mattress companies use scams and tricks to get you to pay more for a mattress. Pitfalls to avoid, written by and industry CEO with 25 years of manufacturing and marketing experience in the mattress business.
The fact that we recommend only a handful of the retailers on the web helps a lot, as well. We even have a top recommendation for our #1 rated mattress, which outperforms and outsells virtually all of our other recommendations.
Don’t let the number of online retail stores intimidate you. There are a few really great mattresses out there you can only buy online, and the advantage of choosing an e-commerce site, once you narrow your options down, is that it’s easy to maintain contact with the site, get shipping updates, news about new products or further discounts, and much more.
And in general, especially if you use our resources such as our Trusted Dealer program, the mattress you purchase will likely have been built and packaged for shipment to you in a very short time. The brands we recommend have high turnover, so you don’t have to worry about mattresses being compressed months ago and stuffed into a box, pulled from the shelf, dusted off, and shipped to you.
If you review our mattress review and mattress types pages and still are confused, we have one mattress that we recommend as our overall favorite. The Puffy and The Puffy Lux are two really great beds that get consistently high reviews from Google, and customers often purchase additional Puffy mattresses after their initial purchase.
My daughter purchased a Puffy Lux for her family of four (including my two adorable grandchildren, Sophia, and Michael Paul), and described it as “the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever laid on or sat on”. Her husband agrees that it is the family sanctuary and gathering place for the evening. The Puffy lineup is well thought out, offers plush, nest-like comfort, but without sinking or feeling like you are trapped in a crevice.
Another pitfall I would tell you to avoid is buying a brand just because everyone else is buying it. Often the cost of marketing and advertising for some of the unicorn mattresses that are out there is so high, that the quality of the materials used in the production of the mattress almost guarantees that the product will fail within just 2-3 years.
Often, there are huge markups, especially in brick and mortar retail store, many of which are shutting down all across the country because they cannot compete with less expensive and higher quality e-commerce only brands.
The cost of overhead, especially high dollar rent, utilities, payroll, insurance, and advertising, translates to hundreds of dollars out of a $1,000 mattress purchase. If you are buying one the big box brands, like one of the three S’s (Sealy, Simmons, Serta), you can spend up to $5,000 for one of their premium “black” category beds, and out of that $5,000 you are probably shelling out $3,000 in overhead costs, that include commissions, freight to get the product to the store, all of the overhead I mentioned, and additional shipping costs for delivery to your home.
All things considered, buying a mattress online if smarter, less expensive, and much easier that dragging your family to the local Mattress-Plex and having to lie down and deal with hovering salesman who are breathing down your neck for a sale.
Use our guides and take a look at our Trusted Dealer page to let us help you narrow down the options and get you shopping in the right directions so you’ll get the perfect mattress at the best price.