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Mattress Ratings > Buying a Mattress Online

Buying A Mattress Online: What You Should Know

Unbiased Research Based on Data From 21,700+ Actual Owners

September 14, 2015

Many consumers believe there is high risk in buying a mattress online because it often requires buying a mattress untried – that is, without an opportunity to lie on it first.

Our research involving over 21,700 mattress owners shows, however, that owner satisfaction is similar whether people try a mattress before buying or not.

In other words, statistically speaking, for people overall as a group there is little increased risk of being dissatisfied from buying a mattress online.

This was determined by comparing the owner satisfaction rates of mattresses that can only be bought online without first trying them in a store with the owner satisfaction rates of similar mattresses that are widely available in stores. The results show little difference in owner satisfaction.

Owner Satisfaction Comparison

The table below compares owner satisfaction of people who tried a mattress in a store before buying versus those who bought a mattress untried online.

Mattress Type Owner Satisfaction of People Who Tried Mattress in a Store Before Buying Owner Satisfaction of People Who Bought Mattress Untried Online
Innerspring 63% 60%
Memory Foam 82% 78%
Latex* 69% 83%
Air 79% 80%

* The higher owner satisfaction for latex mattresses bought untried online is likely due to the fact that the higher-rated latex mattresses tend to be sold primarily online, while lower-rated ones are often sold in stores.

Three Reasons

Our research suggests three main reasons why owner satisfaction tends to be similar whether people try a mattress before buying or buy online untried.

1. People who buy online tend to be more informed as consumers. People who buy online often do significant mattress research which can guide them to make a proper buying decision. Their research may include trying in a store a mattress similar to the one they are considering buying online. From their research, online buyers tend to know that the mattress they are buying will likely suit them even without trying it first.

2. Mattress tried in store is not broken in. About 20% of mattress owners who try a mattress in a store before buying it soon report being dissatisfied with the mattress and say they made a mistake in their choice.

Their mistaken choice seems to be often due to the fact that a mattress in a store may or may not be broken in depending on how many people have lain on it. A mattress that is not broken in can feel significantly firmer than one that is broken in. If a person chooses a non-broken in mattress based on the belief that this is how it will feel long term, they may soon be disappointed when the mattress they receive breaks in and becomes significantly softer. Asking the salesperson whether a mattress is broken in or not does not appear to be a reliable way of determining its actual condition.

3. Mattresses can be individuals. Mattresses – even ones of the same model and specifications – can have their own individual characteristics and "feel" to some degree due to inconsistencies in materials and manufacturing. (This tends to be especially true for memory foam beds and latex beds.) As a result, a person may receive a mattress that feels markedly different (worse) to them than the same one they tried in a store.

Advantages Of Buying A Mattress Online

(See the mattress retailer comparison for online mattress retailer ratings.)


You can shop and buy in the comfort of your home anytime.

Less Sales Pressure

You do not have to deal with mattress salespeople, some of whom can be high pressure.

Better return policies

Mattress retailers who operate exclusively online know that people perceive greater risk in buying from them because they cannot try the mattress before buying.

As a result, these retailers often attempt to remove the perceived risk by having generous return policies.

For example, unlike most brick and mortar retailers, online retailers tend to offer not only the ability to exchange a mattress but also the option of a full refund. In addition, brick and mortar retailers usually make the customer pay a fee for returning the mattress, while online retailers sometimes provide free return shipping.


The fact that retailers often sell the same or similar mattresses under different names can make comparing retailers' prices difficult. Nevertheless, our research estimates that mattress prices at an online retailer are on average about 15% less than the asking prices at a brick and mortar retailer.

It should be noted, however, that brick and mortar retailers will sometimes negotiate on price, effectively making their price equal to that of online retailers.

Sales Tax
If you buy from a brick and mortar retailer, you will likely have to pay sales tax. If you buy online and the mattress comes from out of state, you can avoid the tax.

Delivery Fee
Both online and brick & mortar retailers may offer free delivery, but free delivery is somewhat more common with online retailers.

Possible Price Example: Online Retailer Vs Brick & Mortar Retailer
The example below is for fictitious Mattress X. It shows that significant savings are possible by buying online, especially if the brick and mortar retailer charges tax and delivery, while the online retailer does not.

MATTRESS X Online Retailer Brick & Mortar Retailer
Price (queen) $1,249 $1,449
Sales Tax $0 $101 (7%)
Delivery $0 $70
Total $1,249 $1,620

Disadvantages Of Buying A Mattress Online

more hassle to return in most cases

While online retailers may be more generous with their return policies, getting the mattress back to them may be more of a hassle than is the case with brick and mortar retailers. When you send back a mattress to a brick and mortar retailer, they often send out their own truck and simply take the mattress out of your house. It couldn't be easier.

But when you want to send a mattress back to an online retailer, the shipping method is usually UPS or FedEx. This means that your mattress will need to be prepared for shipping by you which may include wrapping and or boxing the mattress. Depending on the retailer's policy, the mattress might be picked up at your home or you may need to take the mattress yourself to a shipping store. Finally, if the mattress is dirtied or damaged during return shipping, the retailer may not provide a full refund.

However, a small number of newer online mattress companies, such as Casper and Leesa, offer a return process similar to that of a traditional retailer in that a courier (if available in your area) takes the mattress from your home and no shipping preparation is necessary.

More information: Returning a Mattress: What You Should Know.

Old mattress take-Away Either Not Available Or Is Pricey

Brick and mortar mattress retailers often will take away your old mattress at little or no cost when they deliver your new one. Some online retailers including Amazon offer this service at an additional cost, but many do not. So you will need to find your own way to dispose of your old and likely heavy mattress. Talk to your waste management (garbage takeaway) company. Some will only take large items such as mattresses for an additional fee.

No Or Limited salesperson Help

A good, experienced mattress salesperson can provide you with valuable personalized help and insight in selecting the best mattress. Such help tends to not be available when buying online, but some online retailers may provide online assistance from a live person.

No Or Little Price Negotiation

While online mattress retailers only occasionally negotiate on price, brick and mortar retailers are more likely to budge.

About our Online Mattress Buying Research

Sleep Like The Dead compared owner satisfaction of mattresses that can only be bought online without first trying them in a store with owner satisfaction of similar mattresses that are widely available in stores.

The results show little difference in owner satisfaction.

Advantages of buying online tend to include convenience, less pressure, better return policies and a lower price.

Disadvantages of buying online may include the hassle of returning the mattress, no old mattress haul-away, no or limited salesperson assistance and no or limited price negotiation.

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