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Buying a mattress online or at a store both have pros and cons as indicated below.
|Buying Mattress ONLINE||Buying Mattress IN STORE|
|Available to try before buying||D-||a||With few exceptions, mattress manufacturers that sell predominantly online do not have their mattresses widely available in stores for try out before buying.|
|Likelihood of being satisfied||C||c+||In general, mattress owner satisfaction is fairly similar whether a mattress is bought online or not. More.|
|Price||b||C||Buying online can save consumers about 15%. More.|
|Mattress quality||B||C||Mattress brands sold only or mostly online often have at least slightly better specifications, materials, durability, and long-term comfort than those widely available in stores.|
|Full service delivery||D+||A||Online retailers usually provide only front door delivery, while store retailers usually provide full service delivery, including mattress set up. More.|
|Old mattress take away||D+||A-||Unlike mattress stores, online retailers usually do not offer old mattress take away. There are a few exceptions such as Amazon's disposal service. (There are also disposal companies such as mattressdisposalplus.com.)|
|Ease of returns||c||B||For online retailers, returns can vary from easy to difficult. For mattress stores, returns in most cases are easy. More.|
|Return fees||B+||C-||Returns fees tend to be significantly less for online retailers.|
|Shopping convenience||A||C-||When shopping online, you can shop and buy in the comfort of your home anytime.|
|No sales pressure||B+||C-||When shopping online, you usually do not have to deal with mattress salespeople, some of whom can be high pressure.|
|Personal assistance||D+||B-||At mattress stores, it is possible to have in-person interaction with a knowledgeable salesperson. This same degree of assistance is not available when buying online, but some online retailers provide assistance from a live person.|
|Customer service||B+||C||Online mattress retailers on average have better customer service than brick & mortar mattress stores.|
Many consumers believe there is a much higher risk of being dissatisfied when buying a mattress online – that is, when buying it untried without an opportunity to lie on it first.
Our research shows, however, that owner satisfaction is fairly similar whether people try a mattress before buying or not. In other words, statistically speaking, for people overall there is only a modest increase in risk of being dissatisfied from buying a mattress online.
These findings were 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.
Why does trying a mattress in a store before buying make limited positive difference in owner satisfaction over buying online untried? Our research suggests several reasons.
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.)
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.
Shoppers may get the wrong impression of a mattress if they don't lie on it long enough for their body to settle. Also, trying a mattress in a store often has distractions – such as other customers – which can prevent a proper evaluation.
Temperature can affect foam, especially memory foam. Cooler temperature tends to make it firmer, while warmer temperature tends to make it softer. If the store has a temperature significantly different than your bedroom, then the mattress may have a different comfort level in the store than it will at home.
Mattresses sold only online often have at least slightly better specs and materials – and therefore better durability and long-term comfort – than mattresses widely available in stores.
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.
As the table below shows, there are often important differences between the shipping / delivery methods and characteristics of online mattress retailers and mattress store retailers.
|Online Mattress Retailers||Mattress Store 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|
|Old mattress removal available||not often||Often|
|Old mattress removal cost||High||None or low|
|Ease of returns||good to poor||good to fair|
Our research suggests that mattress prices at an online retailer are on average about 15% less than the asking prices at a mattress store for the same or similar mattress. It should be noted, however, that store retailers will often negotiate on price, effectively making their price equal to that of online retailers.
If you buy from a mattress store, 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.
Both online and store 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 store retailer charges tax and delivery, while the online retailer does not.
|MATTRESS X||Online Mattress Retailer||Mattress Store Retailer|
|Sales Tax||$0||$101 (7%)|
Many newer online mattress companies – such as Casper, Leesa and Tuft & Needle – offer a return process similar to that of a store retailer. In other words, a courier (if available in your area) takes the bed from your home and no shipping preparation is necessary.
However, for some large online retailers such as Amazon, the return 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. This preparation can be difficult due to many mattresses expanding upon opening resulting in their original packaging being too small for return use. And 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.
More information: Returning a Mattress: What You Should Know.
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 some but limited difference in owner satisfaction.
Advantages of buying online tend to include convenience, less pressure, better return policies and customer service, and a lower price.
Disadvantages of buying online may include no old mattress haul-away, the hassle of returning the mattress, no or limited salesperson assistance, and no or limited price negotiation.
IN THE NEWS: Sleep Like The Dead's research findings have appeared in such news publications as Barron's • Toronto Star • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Edmonton Journal • Woman's World • The Consumerist • The Gazette • Ottawa Citizen
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