Our publisher, Chris Schriever (CS), recently made a cameo on Nationwide Marketing Group's Independent Thinking Podcast to talk with the group's corporate communications manager, Rob Stott (RS), about everything from COVID-19 adjustments in the sleep space and ecommerce mattress sales to the latest in sleep technology.
Here are a few highlights:
On The State Of The Industry Amidst COVID-19
RS: The industry you cover, what have these last few months been like out there as they navigate COVID?
CS: "You know it's interesting and kind of like everything now: the sentiment has been evolving. Initially, manufacturers were trying to figure out what they could and should be doing...Then we we saw manufacturers switch gears and figure out how to create PPE and how to make hospital beds to be determined essential and stay open...That was really a very important and critical time for a lot of manufacturers. So, that's was where that first wave of coverage was focused—on that charitable, that survival sort of mode...The need for additional hospital beds has been huge. It's nice to see how the industry really stepped in to see what products were really needed to keep people safe..."
On COVID-19 Challenges In Bedding And Mattress Retail
RS: Aside from the challenge of staying open, what were other big challenges this space faced that you found through your coverage?
CS: "In those early stages as that was being determined—whether retailers would be deemed essential or not—we heard a lot of frustration from retailers and a lot of confusion. Then what really started to happen is you saw manufacturers shift toward ecommerce programs, which allowed retailers to step up their ecommerce game and be a part of this through a sales vehicle that was working for them. But retailers and manufacturers alike had to pay very close attention to what was going on as well as consumer spending habits to see how those are evolving so they could adjust their own operations to meet those needs...it shows how nimble you have to be..."
On Selling Bedding And Mattresses Online
RS: The ecommerce side for the sleep business: when I think about shopping for a mattress, you want to get that look and feel, you want to see how comfortable it is—that sort of thing. Walk us through what that looks like. How does that happen? How do you still get that experience of shopping for a mattress online?
CS: "Well, you know, honestly, I think this pandemic has accelerated the online mattress market immensely. It has made many more people comfortable shopping online...but I don't think the future is all online. We've seen companies introduce safety and cleaning protocols. Tempur-Sealy, Precision Textiles and BEDGEAR all have products available to keep that mattress clean once consumers feel comfortable returning to the store. I think in a lot of ways these new cleaning procedures should've been happening before COVID so having them in place moving forward will help people feel good shopping..."
"Brick-and-mortar retailers are going to have to provide a markedly different retail experience, right? One that separates what consumers can get online to make it more unique for them to come into the store. We are seeing a move to more consultative approaches that help build trust and create a connection between that shopper and the retailer. It might also make appointment only stores more popular..."
Listen to the full episode here.
About Nationwide Marketing Group: Nationwide Marketing Group works on behalf of thousands of independent appliance, furniture, bedding, electronics, specialty electronics, custom installation and rent-to-own dealers helping them grow their businesses and thrive on their own terms. With more than 5,000 members operating some 14,000 storefronts, Nationwide Marketing Group is the largest buying, marketing and business support organization of its kind, representing billions in combined annual sales across the membership. For nearly 50 years, the organization has remained committed to the independent channel, empowering members with the scale, sophistication and efficiencies they need to compete while delivering the unmatched business intelligence, tools and resources required to win in an ever-changing business environment.