The Challenge of Buying a Mattress Online

Today many consumers do almost all of their shopping online. This may be a matter of convenience or of necessity depending upon the specifics of a situation, but whatever the reason there is no doubt that there are very few things that can’t be found and purchased with the press of a tablet, iPhone or computer button these days. Mattresses are one of the most surprising items that have become popular as online purchases. Though the process is no doubt less time consuming and uncomfortable than lying down on a series of beds in a public showroom, and avoids the pitfalls and discomfort that can come from dealing with aggressive mattress salespeople, buying online completely eliminates the possibility of knowing what it feels like to actually lie down on the mattress. Shopping for a mattress does not rank high on most consumers’ favorite experiences. The wide array of choices can make people’s head spin, and learning and understanding the terminology that describes different option’s materials, levels of plushness, construction and more can feel like studying for a high-level exam. Then once you think you have an idea of what you want or need a manufacturer will use different model numbers or names that completely defeat the ability to comparison shop, so it’s impossible to tell whether you’ve gotten a good deal or not. Add on to that the fact that you need to schedule delivery and set up and make arrangements for your old mattress to be picked up and it’s no wonder that people often put off the process far longer than they should – and studies have shown that mattresses should be replaced every ten years or so in order to ensure that they are providing the correct amount of support to maintain back health. But is it possible to make an informed mattress purchase online? And what happens if you make a purchase and you’re not happy with what is delivered? There are a number of companies that have decided to enter the online mattress market, as well as traditional retailers that are offering the same mattresses online as the ones that they display in their showrooms. Among the new entries is, a company that restricts its offerings to a single mattress option (available in a variety of sizes) that it promises to ship out for free throughout the United States and Canada. The company immediately addresses the question of what to do if you’re not happy with your selection by offering a 100-night trial that allows buyers to call within that time frame and have their purchase picked up and your money refunded, and the mattress is either donated or recycled depending upon where you live. Tuft * Needle is a similar company that offers a 30-night trial. Caspar’s CEO Philip Krim thinks that shopping with a guarantee is a better model than trying out a mattress in the store, saying, “Lying on a bed for thirty seconds or a minute doesn’t really tell you much about that mattress. You can avoid all that online.” That being said, his company has showrooms but they are limited to New York and Los Angeles, and Tuft & Needle similarly limits their walk-in availability to a single spot in Phoenix. Buyers seem happy with purchasing without spending time lying on the bed, and there’s no doubt that it’s the possibility of returning the bed that makes that the case. NightAir makes the process pain free! Buyers who are interested in purchasing a mattress this way need to do their homework and make sure that they understand each individual retailer’s offerings, as not every company is as freewheeling with their return policy, and mattress experts concur that it is important to have the time to test a mattress out. According to Mary Helen Uusimaki, vice president of marketing and communications for the Better Sleep Council, “It’s not just an investment in your home furnishings, it’s an investment in your health. We suggest that consumers get down and lie on the bed. Your preferences and your physical needs are different. The mattress that is right for you is not going to be the mattress that’s right for me. It’s a big investment, and if you get the wrong one, it’s not like a pair of pants that are a little tight.” In addition to industry experts stressing the importance of making a well-educated, well-researched decision, health experts also say that there are definitive differences in the physical results of sleeping on different beds. Ilene Rosen is an associate professor of clinical medicine for the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and a member of the board of directors for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and she says, “There is very little scientific evidence demonstrating that one type of mattress is better than another. The best mattress for you is the one that helps you achieve seven to nine hours of uninterrupted nightly sleep.” She says this is particularly difficult for couples, and as a result, she has specific suggestions for bed partners shopping for a new mattress. “What I do recommend to patients whose needs or comfort differs from their bed partner’s is to try a bed with personal dual options – a bed that can be customized for the comfort of each person – or push together two twin beds that meet the individual needs of each bed partner.” If you’re considering purchasing a mattress online, there are some tips that will make the process easier.
  • Read mattress reviews online and see what other consumers have said about both the mattress and the mattress seller
  • Investigate a mattress seller by looking at their Facebook page and Twitter feed to see how they’ve addressed consumer complaints and issues, and make sure that they are listed with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Make sure that you have a good understanding of their return policy.
  • Have a plan for your old mattress – some retailers will take it away for you, though they may charge for the service.