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Mattress Ratings > Buying a Mattress Online

Buying A Mattress Online: What You Should Know

Unbiased Research Based on 22,400+ Actual Owner Experiences

April 25, 2016

Many consumers believe there is higher 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 22,400 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 65% 60%
Memory Foam 81% 79%
Latex 75% 80%
Air 77% 79%
All Mattresses 75% 70%

Four Reasons

Why does trying a mattress in a store before buying make little positive difference in owner satisfaction? Our research suggests there are four reasons.

1. Mattresses can be individuals. A person may receive a mattress that feels markedly different (worse) to them than the same one they tried in a store. This is due to the fact that 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.)

2. Mattresses sold online often have better quality. In a significant number of cases, mattresses sold only online have at least slightly better specifications and materials – and therefore better durability and long-term comfort – than do mattresses widely available in stores.

3. Mattress tried in store may not be broken in. 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.

4. 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.

Shipping / Delivery Comparison

As the table below shows, there are often important differences between the shipping / delivery methods and characteristics of online mattress retailers and brick / mortar retailers.

  Online Mattress Retailers Brick / Mortar Mattress Retailers
Mattress comes compressed / vacuum sealed often no
Delivery method often UPS, FEDEX own delivery fleet or local contractors
Must be home for delivery not often yes
Potential for reschedules / delays / damage low to medium medium to high
Customer must handle and set up mattress often no
Free delivery often sometimes
Old mattress removal available not often Often
Old mattress removal cost High None or low
Ease of returns good to poor good to fair

Advantages Of Buying A Mattress Online

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

Convenience

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

Little or No 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, online retailers tend to offer not only the ability to exchange a mattress but also – unlike many brick and mortar retailers – 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 no cost returns / free return shipping.

Price

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 Some 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, many newer online mattress companies – such as Casper, Leesa and Tuft & Needle – 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 / facilitate this service in some areas at a significant cost, but most 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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