Lessons from Mattress Firm: Merging Digital into Your Retail Mix
In an effort to clean up its balance sheets and shrink its store footprint, Mattress Firm filed for Chapter 11 in October. The retailer plans to close 700 stores by the end of the year. Although the retailer was plagued by accounting scandals, many of its problems were focused on not paying attention to shifting consumer desires.
While many of Mattress Firm’s competitors amped up efforts online with a direct-to-consumer model—which included bed-in-a-box products shipped directly to customers at no additional cost—the retailer beefed up its investment in brick-and-mortar. The company purchased Sleepy’s, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company with 1,000 stores that had a strong customer base in the Northeast. By acquiring Sleepy’s, Mattress Firm intended to boost its reach from coast to coast through a total of 3,000 retail stores. Unfortunately, the plan backfired.
In the meanwhile, online competitors, such as Casper, Tuft & Needle, Leesa, Purple, and Yogabed, took advantage of the opportunities they were seeing online. Just as the effect Uber and Lyft had on traditional taxi companies across the country, the new online mattress sellers offered a fresh take on an old business model. They supplied consumers a way to shop for big and bulky mattresses online, 24 hours a day. The convenience, value and choice were something the traditional mattress retailer could not compete against—at least not without reconfiguring its strategy. Not surprisingly, Mattress Firm has announced its own plan for an online startup, Tulo, but is it too little, too late? Only time will tell.
Many top flooring executives are pointing to Mattress Firm as a harbinger for what could happen to flooring retailers who do not shift with the times. Brick-and-mortar is not dead. In many ways, it’s becoming more important as a way for consumers to touch and feel their way through the myriad choices they are faced with when shopping for flooring.
But today, it takes a concerted effort digitally to capture consumer attention and get them through the doors. In response to this, I encourage you to pay attention to Irene Williams’ monthly digital marketing column, Message to Marketers. This month, she tackles the topic of marketing automation and how it can help your team tackle new platforms, do better with customer retention and amplify engagement opportunities. In the coming months, we will report on many more ways flooring leaders are helping specialty retailers thoughtfully connect online. What are you doing? Let us know.