Over the past month, Sleep Retailer’s hometown of Washington D.C. has seen a number of mattress stores open its doors, including new spaces from former online-only brands like Avocado Green Mattress and Saatva. At a time when more and more attention has been paid to the ecommerce side of the bedding retail market, we were interested to note this development. With each location touting its own unique twist on the classic brick-and-mortar shopping experience, it got us thinking about the enduring value of in-person retail—and what retailers can do to enhance their physical spaces to appeal to today’s changing consumer shopping habits.
Avocado Green Mattress‘ new DC location is its first in the District and fifth overall. Looking to go above and beyond the traditional mattress store environment, the store was designed to appeal to consumers with eye-catching design and creative features. More than just an aesthetic upgrade, it reimagines the functionality of the store by offering customers the option of rest-testing in a more immersive setting called “The Sleep Experience.” These five to 15 minute sessions deliver different ambiance options, including sunset, nighttime sky and circadian lighting. The store also features a cafe and a community space that the brand says will be used for future events including yoga classes and a speaker series, creating new opportunities for consumers to frequent the store location between mattress purchases.
Saatva also recently opened a new space in DC and, like its inaugural Manhattan location, the company is positioning it as a “viewing room” rather than a tradition store. With the new location, the company is building on its strong ecommerce background with digital features integrated directly into the look and flow of the store. That includes dynamic display signage and so-called “behavior-sensing” technology that allows consumers to “discover, personalize and build their ideal sleep experience.” These displays are designed to communicate in-depth product information to the consumer as they browse the store. Backed by powerful analytics capabilities, Saatva is then able to analyze customer behaviors in order to display more relevant content based on what products they’re engaging with. This allows the company to deliver the personalization benefits of online shopping alongside the tangible benefits of in-person rest-testing.
More than just offering a fresh coat of paint, these new brick-and-mortar stores are reimagining how a mattress store can and should function in today’s market.
Here’s what we’re taking away from this new way of approaching the sleep shopping experience:
As a city, DC offers a lot of value to retailers right now—it’s a smaller market than say New York or Chicago, but is still bursting with that young professional, urban demographic. Of course, not every brand or retailer has the opportunity to open a brick-and-mortar location in the hot spot of their choosing. But there is a lesson to be learned in how these stores have been curated to their specific location. Understanding who your shoppers are and speaking to them directly is valuable. For its DC location, Avocado even went a step further to liven up its storefront with a custom mural by a local artist and a floral installation by a local flower shop. Tapping into the existing community that surrounds your store not only helps differentiate your space from old tired ideas of what a mattress store should look like—it can also help widen your customer base.
A Hybrid Approach That Solves Universal Retail Pain Points
This kind of showcase store model isn’t an entirely new concept, but both Avocado and Saatva’s shops offer distinct benefits that resonate with how people are shopping right now. By blending the features and functionality of both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar, they are more effectively solving some of the biggest pain points consumers have with both options.
When shopping for a new mattress, ecommerce can be incredibly appealing to consumers because it allows them to research and compare product offerings at their own pace. But without the ability to actually lay down and experience a product, it can be a limiting experience nonetheless. At-home trials and risk-free returns were once lauded as an innovative solution, but the process of actually receiving and returning a mattress is inherently difficult for both retailers and buyers. Being able to pop into a store and quickly test the products you’ve already researched now seems like the more convenient route in comparison—but, even still, many consumers are wary because of poor experiences they’ve had in the past.
Understanding the pain points on both sides, Avocado and Saatva have developed hybrid spaces that reimagine how consumers interact and engage with the brick-and-mortar environment.
Saatva has freshened up the in-store model by enhancing it with some ecommerce functionality. By integrating smart displays into a real-life setting, the company offers a more “self-guided” shopping experience. This not only helps deliver pertinent product information in an accessible way, it also helps to eliminate the perception of a “pushy salesperson.” Because the store is set up so that the customer can explore the products on their own, that shifts the responsibility of the RSA—they are there to answer follow-up questions if need be or otherwise engage with those consumers who actively seek them out.
Avocado has made its space more inviting to consumers by invoking a sense of community and offering more than just a mattress shopping experience. With the addition of a cafe serving healthy food and drink and a space for restorative yoga practice, the company is creating an environment where people actually want to hang-out—while also underscoring the wellness message that is central to the brand.
Both of these stores give the consumer the chance to feel a little bit more in control of their own buying experience, while still offering them the guidance and support they need to make the best decision.