Way back in 2009 Amazon launched its house brand, AmazonBasics, to provide low-cost, generic versions of staple household items to its loyal customers. According to Quartz, the brand went from selling 252 products on the AmazonBasics landing page in 2013 to 1,506 in 2017. Around the end of September 2018, the brand added a new category to its private label family of products: mattresses. Given the company’s history, this doesn’t seem like much of a surprise—but in the land of bedding and mattress retail, it was breaking news. So why is everyone talking about Amazon’s foray into the boxed bed category? And what is it that makes Amazon’s simple memory foam mattress models special?
First here’s an overview of the product: the ecommerce giant’s new mattress line comes in any size you could want— from twin to California King—and in three profiles—8, 10 and 12 inches. The product is sold on Amazon.com and presented in contemporary lifestyle photographs. The product listing breaks down the layers of the mattress into the plush memory foam layer, soft foam for comfort and airflow and finally, hard foam for support and airflow. Touting a Certi-Pur US Foam certification as well as Oeko Tex certification on the mattresses’ surface fabric, the models sell for $129.99 for an 8-inch twin and $329.99 for a 12 inch California king.
Although it might seem like Amazon has merely jumped on the continually growing bandwagon of trendy boxed bed brands, the powerhouse has done one key thing differently. Amazon’s mattresses cost significantly less and, of course, they can be delivered via free Prime 2-day shipping. If you look at the other mattresses sold online (whether direct-to-consumer or on Amazon), there are almost none selling queen size beds for less than $300. While Amazon may not throw in a pillow, offer a generous trial period or even provide a money back guarantee, its mattresses cost so much less that it likely doesn’t matter for majority of consumers.
While the line has been on the market for only a little over a month, it’s already getting decent reviews. On Amazon, its rating is a 3.5 with 35 reviews and was received positively on Amazon Vine, a program that allows consumers to preview products in exchange for a rating. Even Sleep Sherpa has nice things to say about the new bed.
All of that said, it makes sense for other brands to be nervous. While Casper likes to tout its ability to shake up a sleepy industry, Amazon is the original retail disruptor. At the same time, there are some major caveats to the popularity of Amazon. According to a recent Business Insider article, “Amazon's private brands have come under fire lately, as some critics have pointed to the problems inherent with the company's overall strategy to be both a retailer of goods and a marketplace platform for other sellers.” With the EU opening a preliminary investigation into whether or not the ecommerce company has violated anti-trust laws by using its information about third party sellers to launch its own private-label products and Jeff Bezos’ growing reputation for being hateable, who knows what the cards hold for the company.
Even though the boxed bed brands are rumored to be shaking in their boots as a result of this move, it might not be time for traditional retailers to panic just yet. The best response to any new and seemingly successful thing that a competitor does is observation. As retailers, it’s key to look at companies like Amazon— just as with the boxed-bed brands—and consider what they are doing right and wrong. Can your company offer something similar? Or, even better, offer something the competition can’t provide?
With so many major name brands and lesser known start-ups becoming “mattress companies,” what does it really take to be a mattress company these days? And in retail in general, what are today’s standards for success?
The lesson we can take from the example of AmazonBasics is that no-drama, decent quality and affordable options make consumers happy, especially when delivery is so convenient. In its limited marketing of the new mattresses, Amazon has taken a ‘less is more’ approach. It displays the mattresses in warm but sparing bedrooms and provides informative product detailing below (in the same fashion as any other product on the site). Since this bold move has caught the eyes of numerous news outlets, the product launch has received significant but inadvertent promotion despite Amazon’s quiet approach to the release.
Only time will tell how successful this particular AmazonBasics product line-up will be, but the initial reaction seems to be that the price is right and media interest, at least, has been piqued.
This article originally appeared in Sleep Retailer eNews on November 8, 2018
Click here to get Sleep Retailer News delivered straight to your inbox.