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Understanding The E-Commerce Shopper
There’s no doubt that online retail is growing. Research has shown that e-commerce makes up nearly 10% of the $3.7 trillion retail market - and is set to reach 15% by the middle of the next decade. With the list of online-only mattress companies continuing to grow, it would be easy to assume that the bedding industry is heading towards a digital-first future - but the reality of the situation is more nuanced than that. Because even as online sales continue to grow, the majority of mattress shoppers still prefer buying in a brick-and-mortar retail store. At the same time, many of these same shoppers still rely on online resources for at least part of their buying journey. So how can mattress retailers build an omni-channel strategy that will engage these potential customers and convert their “research” into actual sales? First and foremost, they must have a realistic understanding of how and where consumers are shopping.
In a recent research study, Colonial LLC found that 75% of consumers say they want to buy their mattress at a retail store and 73% say they must lie on a bed before buying, even if there is a free return policy. At the same time, Colonial also found that about 45% of mattress shoppers did preliminary research before heading to store to shop for a mattress. For those that researched online, the majority went to a retailer or manufacturer website first - looking mainly for information on product construction and where to shop.
Online strategies have become an integral part to any retail operation. A recent study published by Forrester Research predicted that, by the end of 2018, more than $1.9 trillion in retail sales will be driven by digital touch points and $1.3 trillion will be impacted by smartphones. Website visits are even more valuable for mattress retail, as these consumers are usually much further along their buying journey than other segments. According to research from PERQ, 39% of customers on retail websites are already “narrowing their options” and 17% are “ready to purchase” - but 65% of online mattress shoppers visiting retail websites say they are ready to buy now or within two weeks.
But driving these potential customers to actual purchasing is still a challenge for many retailers. In fact, Colonial’s market research discovered that more than 36% of consumers who researched or shopped for a new mattress in the past 12 months did not end up buying one anywhere.
When it comes to building a sales-driving web strategy, PERQ suggests that an engaged, personalized and guided online experience increases the likelihood that consumers will make a purchase from that retailer. In order to do that successfully, retailers must develop a website that will drive the right customers to where they are most likely to buy.
While anecdotal lore has pinned the e-commerce revolution on tech-savvy youngsters, new research from Deloitte actually found that income level is a more accurate indicator than age of whether or not someone shops online. According to Deloitte, 58% of low-income consumers shop in-store, while 52% of high-income consumers prefer to shop online. Low-income and middle-income millennials actually shopped in-store just as much as older people within the same income bracket. While high-income millennials are more likely to shop online, they make up only 19% of the total millennial generation and just 6% of the population overall.
This class divide may only be exacerbated over time too. In recent years, the operational cost of running an online retail store has increased - thanks to climbing social advertising and shipping prices. At the same time, the closing of brick-and-mortar retail spaces have left a number of vacancies, which has helped drive down the cost of rent for new, prospective retailers. So while e-commerce has long been seen as cheaper and more convenient than its brick-and-mortar counterpart, some experts are theorizing that the future of online shopping will be “more convenient and more expensive.” This is not necessarily a bad thing for retailers (nor a deterrent for online shoppers, who, as we mentioned before, are mostly higher-income), but companies should prepare for a the market to evolve into a much more premium opportunity.
By understanding how and where different consumer demographics shop today, retailers can better fine-tune their selling strategy across all channels.
Think Outside The Box: Refresh Your Store With A Creative Assortment Of Sleep Accessories
Here at Sleep Retailer, we’ve long touted the sales benefits of offering high-quality bedding accessories. From bed bases and pillows to protectors and sheets, not only are these products potential add-ons for any mattress sale, they also make it easy for consumers to purchase a complete bedroom set at once. The convenience of being a “one-stop-shop” can be a key differentiator for a retailer. As the mattress retail market continues to evolve, though, it may be time to start thinking outside the box when it comes what kinds of sleep accessories to stock. By diversifying their product offerings to include more unique sleep solutions, at price points considerably lower than a full mattress set, retailers have the chance to build a stronger relationship with customers. And a wider variety of new and different sleep-oriented products on the shelves can help drive more store traffic on a more consistent basis.
As sleep has become an increasingly relevant topic for the general public, many consumer-facing publications have begun offering tips and tricks for how to get more shut eye. We’ve perused a variety of buying guides from a number of these platforms to get a better idea of what sort of new and creative sleep accessories are on the market:
Air Purifiers & Humidifiers
Many people just accept snoring as a fact of life - without realizing that allergens like pollen and dander in the air may be the hidden culprit. Even if snoring isn’t a concern, these same allergens can also trigger that night-time stuffy nose that keeps you tossing and turning. Air purifiers can help reduce allergens and germs in the air, keeping your nasal passages clear all night long. Another common cause of snoring is dry air, as low moisture levels in the nose and mouth can trap air in the sinuses, causing a loud vibration or snore. Having a humidifier going in your room at night can help replenish sinus moisture and minimize snoring.
The soothing influence of a warm bath is obvious - but did you know that it is actually a really effective sleep hack as well? Body temperature is a major influence on circadian rhythm: the body naturally heats up during the day when it is most awake, then cools off during the evening as it prepares for bed. This drop in temperature is a signal to the brain that it’s time to go to sleep. So while sitting in the bath is relaxing, the process of getting out is actually what does the trick. By warming up the body’s internal body temperature in the bath, you can trick your brain into sleepiness as you cool off. When you couple this phenomenon with a relaxing bath soak or a lavender bath bomb, the effects can be undeniable.
Sure, a ratty old tshirt and a pair of boxer shorts may technically be acceptable to sleep in - but there’s something about a matching pajama set that makes bedtime feel like a treat. Companies like BEDGEAR and SHEEX both offer quality loungewear options that coordinate with their other bedding accessories - making it even easier for retailers to integrate these new products into their existing showrooms. With breathable fabrics and comfortable designs, these pajamas not only look good but can even enhance the sleep experience.
Aromatherapy is a powerful tool. The olfactory nerve is directly involved in sending signals to the parts of the brain in charge of emotions, mood and memory. It also communicates with both the autonomic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which is why encountering a certain smell can activate a physical response. Studies have shown that specific essential oils can help relieve stress, encourage relaxation in the body and promote better sleep. The most popular scent for sleep is lavender, thanks to its well-researched relaxation effects: it has been shown to lower blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature. Whether in the form of linen sprays or body oils, aromatherapy products can transform the bedroom into a calming oasis.
Supplements & Teas
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 4% of adults in the US use prescription aids to help them sleep at night. While these medications may be effective, they also often run the risk of dependency. For people looking for less addictive options, there are a number of over-the-counter supplements that offer similar benefits. Melatonin is one of the most common sleep aids. A hormone naturally produced in the body, melatonin helps manage circadian rhythms - with levels usually rising on their own as bedtime approaches. For people who struggle with insomnia (or jet lag or any other sleep disruption), synthetic melatonin can help get the body’s circadian rhythm back on track. For an even more natural sleep supporter, there are calming chamomile teas that help relax the body before bed. Or, if you want to tap into one of the latest food trends, Dream Dust is an “adaptogenic blend of tranquil superherbs and Chamomile Flower” that is supposed to help soothe tension and promote better sleep.
Sleep Masks & Black-Out Curtains
Light is another major factor in managing circadian rhythms and a huge influence on sleep quality. When the eye’s retina detects sunlight, it sends a message to the brain that triggers the body’s “awake” senses - warming up the body temperature, activating the cortisol hormone. Even artificial light can trigger these responses. So whether you are stuck with the overnight shift or a simply live in a brightly lit neighborhood, finding ways to block out the light is key to getting a good night sleep. Sleep masks are a lightweight, portable option (and can even provide soothing skincare benefits as well), but blackout curtains are more effective at keeping the light at bay - and have the added benefit of blocking out noise as well.
Light Filtering Glasses
One of the most common “sleep tips” is limiting screen time a few hours before bed. The rationale is that the blue light that emanates from our phones and computers can scramble the body’s circadian rhythm, preventing an individual from feeling sleepy. Humans are especially sensitive than this type of digital light, which is in the blue wavelength region of the spectrum - making it more detrimental to sleep patterns than the light filtering in through the window. But for a lot of people, parting with their trusty iPhone for even a few hours can be damn near impossible. Thankfully, there are now handy “filtering glasses” - like Uvex Skyper safety eyewear - that actually protect your eyes from the blue light even as you look directly at its source. Technophiles rejoice!
Of course, the flipside to the body’s sensitivity to light is that it can also be a helpful tool in waking up in the morning. While standard alarms clocks are often loud and unpleasant, a light-based alarm utilizes “artificial dawn” technology to wake the body more gently. The light turns on half an hour before the alarm is set to go off, starting out dim and growing steadily more bright. This eases the body out of deep sleep, so when the audio alarm tone finally goes off, it is much less jarring of a wake up. As an added bonus, these products — like Philips’ Somneo light — actually look pretty cool too, making them an appealing addition to any bedroom.
Ear Plugs & White Noise Machines
Whether you live in a bustling city, a creaky house or with a snoring partner, nighttime noisiness can pose real challenges to sleep. For the occasional issue (neighbors having a party?), ear plugs may do the trick. But for more consistent interruptions, a white noise machine can be a game-changer. More than simply masking external noises, white noise machines actually work by giving the brain something consistent and redundant to focus on: a neutral distraction that helps you ignore whatever bumps in the night have been keeping you awake.
Of course, not every store needs to sell everything - and retailers should be careful not to transform their space into a Bed, Bath & Beyond product maze. Instead of just throwing all different types of accessories at the wall and seeing what sticks, retailers can further benefit from curating these new product offerings around specific themes, like self-care or sleep tech or health and wellness.
While sleep accessories have long been presented as afterthoughts or add-ons, these products can be just as important to consumers as the mattress itself — and more regular purchasing can help you build greater loyalty with customers. By creating a shopping environment with a more holistic feel to it, one that prioritizes the quest towards better sleep from a variety of different angles, mattress retailers can start to break away from industry commodification and deliver more meaningful solutions.
The Cannabis Cure-All: Can Weed Help Us Sleep Better?
Now legal in over 30 states (particularly for medicinal use), marijuana has become an increasingly popular, though still controversial, contestant for use as a sleep aid. From TV to books to movies, pot smokers are often depicted as sleepy, chilled out and relaxed -- so why not consider it as a solution for a slew of problems including anxiety and insomnia? Cannabis websites likes Greenstate have been lauding weed as a solution for sleeping pill poppers, filling site pages with glowing testimonials of its efficacy. High Times, a leading cannabis magazine, compares marijuana with melatonin to help readers understand the similarities, differences and benefits of the drug as a sleep aid. While marijuana holds a reputation for relaxing its users, there’s still so much to be learned about the widespread effects of the drug and its validity as a sedative. Some studies have explored weed’s impact on sleep and, though it’s definitely a better sleep aid than alcohol, there are still some complicated caveats to habitual nighttime use.
So How Does It Work
While marijuana’s impact on the body is dependent on numerous factors (strain, environment, dosage, etc.), the key to cannabis’ properties as a sleep aid is the endocannabinoid system, a unique system in our bodies which has multiple roles. In particular, this system can subdue our stress and anxiety responses. Cannabis is one of the only substances that specifically influences this complex system.
There are two distinctive cannabinoids or chemicals that impact how we experience cannabis: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). According to this 2008 study, it’s THC that induces sleep by activating what is called the CB1 receptors (part of the endocannabinoid system). It is also said to abbreviate the sleep latency period (the time it takes to fall asleep). In 2014, this study claims that CBD, on the other hand, promotes wakefulness.
There are also, according to cannabis culture, two distinctive strains with reputations for affecting individuals in two different ways, sativas and indicas. Sativas are said to energize, indicas to relax away. In reality, there may not be as much truth to this as previously thought. Basically, neither strain is chemically consistent enough for a statement like that to be legitimate. In fact, the true difference in the two strains is the way the plants look physically not the chemical make-up.
That said, age, experience with the substance, frequency of use and mode of ingestion are also pieces to the puzzle of how marijuana can impact a user -- especially one looking for a specific outcome.
While marijuana sounds like an easy and even fun fix to frustrating sleep problems, there are several big caveats to the weed-as-sleep-aid trend. First, this research suggests that the drug could impair sleep quality for those who used it as teenagers.
Second, marijuana can lessen REM sleep, the most restorative part of the sleep cycle. Regular marijuana users may also experience a rebound in REM resulting in vivid dreams after periods of less REM sleep. This downside is especially concerning; individuals struggling to sleep are looking to improve their health and the use of marijuana could potentially cause a new problem instead of providing a solution.
Finally, those who use marijuana to get to sleep at night are also prone to what some call a “weed hangover,” the experience of feeling extra tired the following day.
All in all, there’s not enough concrete evidence verifying the long-term effectiveness of cannabis as a sleep aid. Certainly, it can be relaxing and may relieve pain, but its ability to help individuals sleep consistently is yet to be proven.
Cannabis research as a whole is a widening field of study. As marijuana becomes legal in more and more states, all practical applications of the drug will likely be explored, researchers are sure to find more healthy ways to utilize the drug’s positive properties soon.
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