The bed-in-a-box industry is growing as consumers increasingly look to buy mattresses and other bedding items online to be directly delivered to their homes. And many of these companies have learned that there is a benefit to including physical store component, whether it be a permanent storefront, such as Casper in New York City, or a showroom as part of a partnership, as with Leesa Sleep and West Elm. But Nest Bedding was one of the first of these companies to successfully bring together online and physical retail.
Founded by Joe Alexander, Nest Bedding first opened in 2012 and now has 10 stores and projects having 30 total in the next five years. Alexander knew from the get-go that the mattress industry would best thrive by selling in all channels.
Alexander believed in the importance of a physical presence for his brand from day one.
"Having come from a similar operation, I saw firsthand the impact the internet and internet shopping was having early on in the mattress business and decided to embrace it right away," he told FierceRetail.
Plus, while cars, mattresses, shoes and clothes are all enjoying a surge of online shopping, Alexander noted that there will always be shoppers who will want to try these items before they buy them.
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"Shopping is a fun, intimate experience, a social activity and as such, we offer both ways to buy our products," he said. Some customers come into Nest Bedding to lay on the bed and explore the product options, and then place an order after business hours. Other shoppers make most of the decision online, but then come into the store to test the feel and make the final purchase.
However, omnichannel is not without its pain points, as it means double the work.
"You have to run the business as two separate entities. Attracting customers, communicating with customers, delivery, etc., is very different from each other," Alexander said. And he admitted to making some mistakes early on by not sufficiently marketing his brand online.
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Alexander will need to stay one step ahead as the online mattress space with physical stores becomes more saturated.
"In fact, the more online brands that spring up, the more overwhelmed customers are becoming, and that will drive more people to want to go to the store to decide," he said.
Moving forward, Alexander said the days of the mom-and-pop stores selling the larger brands is coming to an end as direct-to-consumer brands become mainstream. In preparation, Nest Bedding will continue to open more stores and horizontally expand its product selection to be a one-stop shop both online and in store.