Beds, bricks and clicks
A new online start-up aims to be the “Uber of mattress retailing” by challenging traditional selling models with a simpler and more affordable option, using a “bricks and clicks” strategy.
Called Sommuto, the online start-up offers one single, high quality type of mattress in four different sizes that can be delivered anywhere in Australia, free of charge.
Speaking to Inside Retail Weekly, Sommuto CEO, Craig Morrison, said that in a similar way to how Uber shook up the taxi industry, Sommuto aims to shake up the traditional way to buy a mattress by taking the risk out the purchase, saving customers time and giving them a better buying experience where they can shop in their own time.
“We are trying to take the confusion out of the current bricks and mortar process where there are so many brands, specifications and sizes,” explained Morrison. “It’s really confusing.
“We are challenging the current model where consumers go to a store and lie on a bed for a few seconds while trying to work out all of the different makes and models. On top of this, consumers are often pressured into making a decision, which may result in them purchasing a mattress that is overpriced.”
Malcolm Long from Sommuto added that the start-up is targeting a pricing strategy that is rare for bedding retailers.
“When I started in the industry 30 years ago, the biggest discounts mattress retailers gave was 20 per cent, and this was done when they had their sales twice a year,” Long said.
“But in today’s market, there are 50 per cent off sales all the time. That just adds deception to the industry. It has massive mark-ups and massive discounts. This needed to change. Our core values at Sommuto are integrity, honesty and openness. We deliver our product at the very best price. There is no smoke or mirrors.”
Sommuto is the brainchild of Long, a founder of Sleepy’s and former director of Snooze, and Craig Smith, a co-founder of wotif.com, as well as Morrison, who has more than 12 years’ experience in the technology space guiding tech companies from the start-up phase to mergers, acquisitions and sales and public listed companies.
Its concept, developed over the past three years and tested over the past six months, has been heavily influenced by US-based retailer, casper.com, which has proven to be highly successful in the US market since it launched two and a half years ago doing much the same thing.
“Right from the start, we thought casper.com had done a very good job in eliminating any risk at all for consumers buying a large ticket item such as a mattress online,” explained Long.
After much research, Sommuto chose Australian manufacturer, AH Beard, to produce what it believes is the ideal product, with the perfect firmness, for its brand. The mattress has been manufactured out of gel infused memory foam, which Morrison said eliminates all pressure on body points while being breathable and eliminating one of the traditional complaints of latex and traditional foam mattresses – that your body overheats while you sleep.
“Through AH Beard’s 116 years of manufacturing mattresses, we have found its sweet spot,” he said. “This mattress will suit about 95 per cent of people. Of course, there will always be a few people that it doesn’t suit and that’s why we have the 100-night trial. There is basically no risk to consumers. If they are not happy with the mattress, they can send it back. We offer a full money back guarantee, no questions asked. We have created a zero risk purchase.
With a starting price point of $1290 for a Queen sized mattress, Long (pictured below, right) said Sommuto is one-third of the cost of similar products from traditional retailers.
From clicks to bricks
Those who want to try out the mattresses can come into Sommuto’s “experience centres” in Brisbane and Sydney. The business utilises a ‘bricks and clicks’ retail model, which again was chosen after researching successful retailers in the US.
“We had been studying the concept of selling mattresses online for some time and had also looked at product categories outside the mattress industry to see how that was trending, particularly in North America,” Long explained. “We found that the retailers with the most successful online businesses there were not only spending a lot of money on their web presence and their optimisation online, but also had a shopfront, or a ‘brick and click’ presence.”
“The shopfront is designed to catch some of the baby boomers, as distinct from Gen Ys, Gen Xs or Millennials,” Long continued. “It allows those people who may investigate things online, but are still a bit unsure, to come into the experience centre, touch or lie on the mattress, and talk to a customer experience consultant. This gives a little more comfort to the purchase.”
Long confirmed that Sommuto is currently in negotiations to open a further experience centre in Melbourne, with new centres in Adelaide and Perth planned to follow.
Made to order by AH Beard, the mattresses are then transported nationally by StarTrack, which can deliver overnight to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
“In my planning for next six months, I am looking at introducing a pillow into the range and a mattress protector/topper,” Long revealed. “I am also very excited about offering a very high quality range of sheets and doona covers that are equal in quality to the mattress.”
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