Sleepy mattress market wakes up

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail

Mattresses are an odd thing. Living in a relatively urban location in north London discarded mattresses are a regular sight on street corners, which has always seemed rather strange. My household does not go through them at quite the same cracking rate as others.

Whatever the circumstances behind this apparent rapid turnover in mattresses – I have not had the desire to delve any deeper to find out more about the phenomenon – the fact is that this must suggest a decent category for retailers.

Over the years it would be fair to describe it as a sleepy backwater of the retail sector. I can recall that when Dreams went into administration around 2013 Carpetright set its sights on stealing some market share in the beds and mattresses category. Apart from that, not a lot happened in this area.


Bed-in-a-box better than wine-in-a-box

But recently the mattress market has caught light. The reason is the entrance into the market of ‘bed-in-a-box’ newcomers who are predominantly selling online and taking advantage of a process that can squeeze mattresses by up to 90% of their original size, thereby making delivery not only easier but five-times cheaper.

Eve Sleep set the ball rolling and has sold around 25,000 mattresses since setting up shop 18 months ago. It was joined by Simba in February, which derives 70% of its sales online and the remainder via an exclusive deal it has with John Lewis, and it predicts a turnover of £100 million by 2019. In August US-based Casper joined the party, which suggests things are going to hot up in the mattress department.

This is yet another part of the retail eco-system that is being disrupted by technology – in this case not only digital but also the mattress-squeezing process. The latter was invented 15 years ago but failed to make a dent in a market controlled by the old-school incumbents who were, as we’ve seen so often in other categories, unwilling to adapt.

There really is no part of the sector that will remain untouched by disruptors. The established players must feel like they need a lie down but that would clearly only exasperate matters.

Glynn Davis, editor of Retail Insider

K3 Retail deliver multi-channel solutions that enable retailers to create joined up shopping experiences for their customers whether they choose to buy on-line, direct, in-store or via mobile. It has over 20 years’ experience delivering award winning solutions, to more than 175 internationally recognised retail brands.