Why A Bedding Designer And Industry Expert Sold His Lucrative E-Commerce Mattress Business To Write Reviews
Our senior editor and founder has been a mattress designer, bedding products engineer, polymer foam expert, textiles and components designer, a mattress fabricator, and CEO of numerous well established e-commerce bed in a box web sites- for 25 years.
Recognized as the only mattress review site run by bedding experts, not sales people and marketing firms, consumers seek out The Mattress Buyer Guide to get authoritative and trust based opinions about the bedding alternatives in mattress industry, largely from bed in a box retailers selling online.
Marc Anderson has been an industry executive since 2003, when he pioneered one of the first bed in a box online mattress stores, eventually owning several ventures that grossed millions of dollars a year in sales. Exhausted from the grind of retail and maintaining a high level of customer service, he sold his enterprise and turned his attention to writing mattress reviews and helping consumers unlock the mystery, and misery, of mattress shopping.
Unlike most other mattress review sites, The Mattress Buyer Guide provides detailed technical information and product specs in our opinions, not by just reading other review sites and tallying up the votes to create foggy, highly anecdotal, and not-so-coherent mattress recommendations, but by finding out exactly what our reviewed mattresses are made of.
Marc decided to channel his energy into providing consumers who were ready to buy their mattress online with recommendations that are short, to the point, and genuine. He quickly points out that many mattress reviews sites are owned by the mattress companies themselves, and he even reveals the names of these questionable platforms on his biased mattress review sites page, which also provides the background on these sites and their influences and control by Big Mattress Inc.
In short, the difference between the expertise found on The Mattress Buyer Guide and almost all other mattress review sites that lack industry experience, is a lot like the difference between a Formula One mechanic trying to explain how a 12 cylinder engine works or hearing about it from the mechanic’s chef, who’s overheard a few phone conversations in the kitchen between the mechanic and his pals while he’s making dumplings.
We figure if you’re going to pay $1,000 for a pretty intimate product that you really want to be an expert on yourself, we’re the site you’d probably want to stick around on.
Instead of posting video reviews of mattress experiences, we gather technical information about the products we review from a variety of sources. Often, we’ll simply call and ask to speak to the fabricator that makes the mattresses for a particular company selling their bed in a box mattress online.
Because very few e-commerce bed in a box companies actually manufacture their own beds (a few do though, and we provide that information on our Trusted Dealer page where we disclose our recommended retailers) it’s actually fairly easy to find out who is making what mattress for what retailer, especially when you have contacts with all of the third party fabricators in the country.
In fact, about 35% of the mattresses sold online are actually manufactured by one third party fabricator in the U.S..
By speaking to the fabricators directly, we can quickly figure out who is using imported components, who is building their mattresses with the American made materials like foam or pocketed coils, and who is using materials with the right density, ILD, other specifications that add up to a quality product that will truly be comfortable, supportive, and durable over time.
To properly review a mattress, knowledge about the ingredients used, include the source of the material, say a kind of memory foam for example, where it is stored (is it stored compressed in an unconditioned warehouse), whether it is stacked 20 layers high, or on racks in smaller amounts, how it is glued together with other layers (water based glue, or VOC glue, sprayed or rolled, etc), and who is building the beds (seasoned craftspeople or unskilled labor), are parts of the puzzle that determines who is included in our Trusted Dealer program, and who is completely left out.
In addition to finding out the technical specifications of the materials used in most bed in a box mattresses, it’s pretty easy if you’re an expert to gauge what materials are being used, the densities, the quality, whether or not the mattress contains a lot of filler material merely designed to consume space and to give the mattress a higher perceived value, and even how long the mattress is likely to last.
Rather than create long lists of bullet points, charts, graphs, and complex lists, our reviews and descriptions are short, sweet, and give you our experts overview and recommendation. There are are now over 215 online mattress stores and out of that group, we only recommend about 40 of them, and only a mere 10 are included in our Best Of the Best list. On our site at least, it’s very difficult to even show up, much less rank in rarified air.
You’ll notice that man prominent brands are not included in our recommended dealer program, and that’s for a reason…they just didn’t make the list.
So here are some of the factors we use when evaluating the design, the “cake recipe” (how layers and components like foam and coil pieces are sequenced), and the technique (glued, not glued, lined, sleeved in fire retardant socks, etc) used in the manufacture and assembly of our candidates.
Durability And Component Quality: Generally referring to the likely lifespan of the product, how well it is likely to maintain its shape and inherent and comfort and support before it begins to fail, usually indicated by the development of indentations tearing, and photo reactivity (turning yellow, due to sunlight exposure, even when covered with fabric). Typically, the average mattress lifespan is about eight years.
Source: Where the components of each mattress are obtained. We use a network of industry contacts to easily determine what third party fabricator is making whose mattress, whether the company has their own shops and production lines, or whether or not the company is merely importing directly from an overseas source.
Cooling Technology: An area of interest to almost all consumers and potential mattress buyers is determining just how effective a particular mattress brand is at reducing body heat and designing a mattress that will sleep cooler.
Typically, this means the skill set by the manufacturer demonstrated by the using of cooling fabrics and textiles, specialized gel and memory foam layers, and how those layers and textiles are configured.
A lot of the so-called cooling technology used in mattress marketing these days is splashed with all kinds of hype and many of the claims that you’ll feel like you are sitting in an ice bath is a little over the top. Gel foams, though, are fairly efficient at reducing heat sink with mattresses, and generally they are infused and mixed into a memory foam and gel bead mixture. The gel beads are largely liquid, which does help reduce the amount of heat stored in the material.
Body Conforming Materials: One of the key considerations that potential buyers are concerned about when purchasing a mattress is how the mattress surrounds their body. Many people want a nest-like immersive feel, which offers body surrounding support, a cradling like effect, vs. a sensation that reduces the amount of body contact that a mattress will have with its owners.
Latex, especially natural latex, for example, is the best material for insuring minimal body contact, making turning and movement much easier, and for people who worry about mattresses that trap you or make you feel like you are trapped in a cocoon, latex offers freedom, thought the trade-off is a firmer, slightly more resilient sensation. There are varieties of latex, however, that are quite soft and cushy.
Some mattresses and pillows conform closely to a sleeper’s body. This helps align their spine and alleviate pressure points, and generally firmer mattresses like latex or hybrid mattresses made with pocketed coils are more effective for proper spine alignment than let’s say memory foam or gel foam.
But, for pressure relief, memory foam is ideal. To get the best of both worlds, we have always recommended a mattress with latex and memory foam built in to the cake recipe, preferably with the memory foam directly above the latex layers.
Motion Transfer: This refers to how effectively the bed’s surface absorbs motion transfer when someone gets up or shifts positions, and then prevents that transfer from spreading to other areas of the mattress. Motion isolation is particularly important to couples and other people who share a bed with someone else, since sleep disruptions are commonly reported with mattresses that do not minimize motion transfer.
Off Gassing And Odor: Many new products emit chemical smells, usually referred to as ‘off-gassing’ when they are first removed from their packaging. As far as mattresses are concerned, these odors are considered non-toxic and don’t pose a hazard to consumers, but the smells can be scary.
We advise all new mattress owners to air out their beds for 24 hours by opening a window or powering up the AC and avoid putting on sheets and bed linens during this time. When we are reviewing our candidate mattresses, we look for severe issues with off gassing, but generally, most reviewers who make observations mention that chemical smells disappear within 24-72 hours. If it continues beyond that amount of time, it’s best to contact the manufacturer for additional advice.
Edge support: Poorly designed mattresses are sometimes notorious for having poor edge support which can be an important issue with certain groups, like seniors, where ease of transfer is an important factor in choosing a mattress. We also like to evaluate whether the mattress is supportive enough to allow a person to sit on the edge of the bed to put on or take off shoes, something not usually considered when making a mattress purchase, but should be a major consideration.
Sex: Hey, a mattress is designed for two things: sleeping and sex. We include observations in all of our mattress reviews and even have a page which addresses which mattresses are best for sex. Mattresses that are bouncier and more immediately responsive, like latex for example, tend to be much better for sex, according to respondents. Memory foam is considered desirable by some though, as it provides an “anchored in sensation” allowing for better penetration.