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May/June 2011

The cover story

Walking in the mattress shopper’s shoes

RETAIL ROAD TRIP

Mid-South’s Great American Homestore gets aggressive—and big—in bedding BE MY GUEST

Retail success requires being a consultant before being a closer MARKET SCENE

New products spotted at the High Point Market


THEY LOVED IT...YOU WILL TOO.

ELIMINATES

SilverShell

99.9%

OF BACTERIA

ANTIMICROBIAL MATTRESS PROTECTOR

The smiling faces above took home a SilverShell™ Antimicrobial Mattress Protector, a new and innovative home textiles product, from the Leggett & Platt® showroom at the January 2011 Las Vegas Market. The SilverShell™ Antimicrobial Mattress Protector, made with the latest antimicrobial technology, utilizes pure elemental silver to safely and effectively inhibit 99% of stain- and odor-causing bacteria, mold, and mildew – even after 60 washes. The 100% waterproof SilverShell™ Antimicrobial Mattress Protector enhances your customers’ sleeping environment, extends their bed’s life, protects their mattress warranties, and adds an extra layer of comfort for a cooler, more restful sleep. Call your Leggett & Platt® representative today to learn more about this innovative new product.

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[ home textiles ] © 2011 Leggett & Platt Consumer Products Group, a division of Leggett & Platt, Incorporated


IN THIS ISSUE where to find it

14

THE COVER STORY

Walking in the mattress shoppers’ shoes Jim Joseph, author of The Experience Effect, shares his perspective on how mattress retailers can begin to map out a better in-store experience for their customers. Plus, a mattress retail store checklist for managers and RSAs.

3

WAKE UP CALL

5

SNOOZE NEWS

30

from the editor’s desk

Why it makes sense to make the Better Sleep Council’s just-launched “Stop Zombieitis!” campaign your own.

stuff you can use

Industry moves to rid America of “Zombieitis”— more sleep on a quality mattresss is the cure; Bob Dylan has a message for mattress retailers, says Cindy Williams; latest sleep tips from the Better Sleep Council; when we sleep less, we eat more, study says; mattresses still mostly made in America; five consumer trends to watch, according to American Express... and more.

MARKET SCENE highlights of High Point

Photos from the April market in High Point capture manufacturers with new products and programs in an expanded bedding category.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

33

BE MY GUEST

35

BACK TALK

37

CLOSING WORDS

by Dave Robben

Remember the “glory days” of bedding retailing? They’re gone. Time to move on.

supporting customer dreams

How do you know when you need a new mattress? Tips to share with your potential customers.

by Gerry Morris A newly emboldened consumer presents challenges for RSAs. Gerry offers tips on meeting them.

25

RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene Mid-South’s Great American Homestore does a big job in high-end specialty bedding and takes tickets even higher with motion bases.

SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

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SleepSavvy The magazine for sleep products professionals

Editor in Chief Nancy Butler 571-482-5441 nbutler@sleepproducts.org Associate Editor Barbara Nelles 336-856-8973 bnelles@sleepproducts.org Contributors Jim Joseph Gerry Morris Dave Robben Cindy Williams Creative Director Stephanie Belcher The Jimmydog Design Group stephanie@jimmydog.com Vice President of Advertising Sales Kerri Bellias 571-482-5444 kbellias@sleepproducts.org Advertising Services Manager Debbie Robbins 571-482-5443 drobbins@sleepproducts.org Circulation Manager Mary Rulli 336-491-0443 mrulli@sleepproducts.org Copy Editor Margaret Talley-Seijn Vol. 10, No. 4 ISSN 1538-702X Sleep Savvy is published 8 times a year by the International Sleep Products Association, 501 Wythe St., Alexandria, Virginia 22314-1917. Phone 703-683-8371. Fax 703-683-4503. Website: www.sleepsavvymagazine.com. Sleep Savvy editorial office: 15 E. Hawthorne Dr., Asheville, North Carolina 28805. Phone 571-482-5441. Fax 703-683-4503. Advertising services: 1613 Country Club Dr., Reidsville, North Carolina 27320. Phone 571-482-5443. Fax 703-683-4503. Subscription policy & rates Retailers: All U.S. retailers qualify for free subscriptions, up to 5 per location. In Canada, $10 per year; all other countries, $30. Manufacturers, suppliers and others: ISPA member company personnel qualify for complimentary subscriptions, subject to restrictions. Nonmembers and others: $30 U.S., $40 non-U.S. Please send subscription orders and changes to: Sleep Savvy, P.O. Box 4678, Archdale, North Carolina 27263 or fax 703-683-4503. ©2011 by the International Sleep Products Association. No portion of the content may be reprinted without permission from Sleep Savvy. Printed in the U.S.A.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

WAKE UP CALL from the editor

Zombies to sell beds? Why not? They’re hot! W

hy is the industry-sponsored Better Sleep Council launching a “Stop Zombieitis!” campaign to help sell more mattresses? (See story on page 5.) Because zombies are hot— or cool, depending on who you ask. Zombies get attention. They’ve been around for centuries and are part of our collective unconscious—the stuff of nightmares. And movies. And TV shows. And bestsellers. They’re right up there with vampires among young people—and not-so-young people. Zombies resonate with every age group, even aging baby boomers like me. (I vividly remember the 1968 premiere of the ultimate zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead. And now I’m an avid fan of AMC’s TV series The Walking Dead.) More importantly, just about everybody I know—from my neighbor’s 7-year-old to the young couple next door with two jobs and two toddlers to my best friend struggling with hormone-induced insomnia—can identify with the symptoms of what the BSC has dubbed “Zombieitis.” The cause? Poor sleep. The cure? More sleep...on a quality mattress! Underway in May The BSC’s “Stop Zombieitis!” campaign launched May 1 on traditional and social media platforms across the U.S. as part of the annual Better Sleep Month awareness campaign. It picks up speed on May 20 with “Stop Zombieitis! Day” and grows from there. That’s the BSC’s plan and they want to sign you up to support the cause. The more retailers focusing on the Zombieitis epidemic, the more people will be talking about it and the

more your consumers will be thinking about the beds they sleep on. A broadly supported “Stop Zombieitis!” campaign will drive sales. Some of those mattress sales to the walking weary will be coming your way...if you make this campaign work for you. Zombie-fighting tools Visit www.sleepsavvymagazine.com for a “Zombieitis Survival Toolkit” with downloadable materials and artwork created by the BSC especially for retailer use. See what’s happening in the fight against Zombieitis at ✔ www.stopzombieitis.com ✔ Facebook.com/stopzombieitis ✔ Twitter.com/stopzombieitis ✔ YouTube.com/user/stopzombieitis Don’t fall victim to “Me-too-itis” just because the campaign isn’t yours alone. Make it your own. The mind boggles at the stories you can weave around zombies, the special events you can create, the fun you can have—the attention you can get for your store! Zombies starring in your TV spots? A Zombie costume party and contest for a new bed? Local consumers and media will love it—and it’s bound to go viral. “Stop Zombieitis!” is a terrific platform for promotions and programs that will wake up potential mattress shoppers in your market. Bring it!

nbutler@sleepproducts.org SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

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SNOOZE NEWS stuff you can use

Join the Better Sleep Council’s national campaign to stop the spread of Zombieitis!

Be the best. It’s the only market

Get rid of the un-slept zombies roaming your town by joining the Better Sleep Council (BSC) campaign to stop the Zombieitis epidemic currently gripping the U.S. The “Stop Zombieitis!” campaign launched May 1 in conjunction with the BSC’s annual Better Sleep Month. Friday, May 20, is “Stop Zombieitis! Day”. The buzz is expected to build throughout 2011. Sleep surveys show that 70% of Americans don’t get the recommended eight hours of sleep at night. In fact, 39% get six hours or less of sleep per night—17% get less than five! Sleep deprivation turns normal people into zombies, identified by their unkempt appearance, unsightly drooling, frequent mumbling or moaning, and a lumbering walk or slow gait. “While we’re taking somewhat of a light-hearted approach with our campaign, sleep deprivation is a very serious health problem,” says BSC Chairman Mark Quinn. “It can have a profound impact on a person’s general health, mood, energy level, job performance and overall productivity.” The causes of Zombieitis are varied, but the BSC’s campaign is raising public awareness that sleeping on old, poor quality bedding is a primary cause. “Research shows that people who get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night tend to sleep on newer mattresses,” says Ryan Trainer, president of the International Sleep Products Association, which sponsors the BSC. Join the cause and let consumers in your market know that you have the cure for Zombieitis. Get your free “Survival Kit for Mattress Retailers” at www.sleepsavvymagazine.com. To stay connected with the campaign, check www.stopthezombies.com.

that’s not

crowded. — George Whalin

Angelina says her insomnia is a ‘bonus’

M

ovie star Angelina Jolie recently told The Independent that her ability to juggle her full schedule—six kids, acting and humanitarian work—is due to insomnia. “I really don’t get much sleep, but I fortunately don’t need much,” she said in the interview. “Insomnia has become a bonus.” Wrong, Angie. Not only is insomnia not a bonus, it can be a serious medical condition, leading to a nasty case of Zombieitis. Getting too little sleep on a regular basis results in diminished performance, increased risk of disease, depression or mood changes and a higher risk of accidents. Instead of bragging, Sleep Savvy thinks Ms. Jolie should be seeking professional help for her Zombieitis. And buy a new, high-quality mattress, of course.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

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SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

CINDY’S INSIGHTS

Listening to the consumer

The times they are a-changin’

H

ere we go again, talking about in-store experiences. You’d think with all the talk, there would be a lot of change. But when I shop mattress retailers, I don’t see it. Most stores are still a sea of beds, the salespeople are still primarily male, there is little privacy and lots of confusion and the process is still very frustrating. Yes, I see some nice wall colors here and there and a kiosk or two intended to bring clarity to the process, but that’s about it. Maybe we are getting this all wrong. We need to completely shift our thinking. Please…dream with me a moment. What if retailers turned their stores into real “sleep” shops and served their customers by teaching them how to sleep? Isn’t that what consumers are in search of? What if the mindset of the retailer was to serve by teaching their customers about proper bedroom lighting or ambient sound or the benefits of owning a complete sleep system from mattress to pillow to adjustable base to linens to relaxing scent and sound? What if consumers could actually shop and compare the product and the retailer with the best service design won the sale? What if a retailer could respond within minutes to an online service complaint and resolve it within the hour? What if returning a mattress became a less frustrating experience? What if consumers came into your stores to buy sleep and health instead of a mattress? At the recent Industry Conference sponsored by the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA), Dr. Roch Parayre taught us that winning companies avoid the bloody, shark-infested waters of intense competition and

stay in the “Blue Ocean”—waters of uncontested market space. Dr. Parayre referred to”Blue Ocean” companies as “pioneers” who redefine their industries through value innovation and are able to reach consumers that other companies will never be able to. This can happen in the mattress industry. What if just one mattress retailer became a pioneer? What if just one retailer decided to move into the uncontested market space of serving rather than selling? It just might be the change the consumer is looking for. Don’t stand in the doorway Don’t block up the hall For he that gets hurt Will be he who has stalled There’s a battle outside And it is ragin’ It’ll soon shake your windows And rattle your walls For the times they are a-changin’. —Bob Dylan Cindy Williams is vice president of retail strategy for home furnishings at Atlantabased Info Retail, a firm that helps retailers and manufacturers improve customer buying experiences. Contact Cindy by phone at 770-356-1229 or through www.inforetail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/cinwilliams.

Still mostly ‘Made in America’

T

he past decade may have seen explosive growth in home furnishings imports into the U.S. market, but the mattress business has remained an overwhelmingly domestic one. That can be a compelling marketing message among shoppers who are increasingly dismayed by the high number of household goods now “Made in China” and elsewhere. Many thanks to Jerry Epperson at Mann, Armistead & Epperson for allowing us to reproduce this chart from his March 2011 Furnishings Digest Newsletter.

6 SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

Imports/% of U.S. Retail 80% 70% 60% 50%

■ Metal 70.7% ■ Wood 68.4% ■ Total 56.1% ■ Upholstery 31.3% ■ Mattress 4.3%

40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 1993

1996

1998

2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

ISPA Earth now on Facebook, LinkedIn

I

SPA Earth, the International Sleep Products Association’s (ISPA) initiative to improve the mattress industry’s environmental impact, now has a page on Facebook and a group on LinkedIn. The social media outreach is a simple vehicle for manufacturers, retailers and suppliers to discuss problems or ask questions they have about recycling and used mattress disposal. To visit the Facebook page, go to www.facebook.com/pages/ISPAearth/206732039340551 To start a conversation on LinkedIn, go to found: www.linkedin.com/groups? home=&gid=3801194&trk=anet_ug_hm.

ISPA needs your help getting rid of old mattresses!

Y

ou’re invited to participate in a simple, online “Used Mattress Disposal Survey” to help the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) understand what retailers are doing with the old bedding being picked up from customers’ homes. It’s easy and it’s confidential. Just go to www.zoomerang. com/Survey/WEB22C74QT8DT7/. Retailer feedback is critical to helping the ISPA Earth initiative improve the environmental impact of the mattress industry and identify efficient ways to take old mattresses out of circulation. Questions? Email ISPA President Ryan Trainer at info@sleepproducts.org.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

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better sleep tips from the Better Sleep Council

he Better Sleep Council (BSC), the consumer education arm of the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA), knows the importance of a good night’s sleep to overall health and well-being. Here are its current consumer tips for creating the ideal sleep environment:

1 2

Make sleep a priority by keeping a consistent sleeping and waking schedule, including on weekends.

3 4

Create a room that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool for the best possible sleep.

5 6 7

Keep work materials, computers and televisions out of the bedroom.

Create a bedtime routine that is relaxing. Experts recommend reading a book, listening to soothing music or soaking in a hot bath.

Evaluate your mattress and pillows to ensure proper comfort and support. If your mattress is 5 to 7 years old, it may be time for a new one. In general, pillows should be replaced every year.

Exercise regularly, but complete workouts at least two hours before bedtime.

If you sleep with a partner, your mattress should allow each of you enough space to move easily. A queen mattress is ideal for two people sharing a bed.

8

Avoid eating, drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages or ingesting nicotine close to bedtime. These can lead to poor sleep, keep you awake or disrupt sleep later in the night. To learn more about the BSC’s messages for consumers, visit its website, www.bettersleep.org.

SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

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SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

5 trends ID’d in American Express study

A

recent American Express study examined consumer-spending trends, looking for the connections between segments that are attracting more retail business. The main connective thread: the growing use of Internet and mobile technology. “We live on a digital planet,” said Mary Hines, vice president of marketing at American Express. “Everything we do is online, and it’s dramatically changing consumer behavior.” Importantly, consumers are also eyeing the ethics and

The five stages of sleep If you want to be a true “sleep consultant” for your mattress customers, you need to know the basic “architecture” of nightly sleep. Here’s a quick summary: ● Stage 1 straddles the fine line between awake and asleep. ● Stage 2 is when body temperature cools and you become oblivious to your surroundings. ● Stages 3 & 4 are the deeper levels of sleep—breathing slows, blood pressure drops and muscles relax. ● REM sleep, short for “rapid eye movement” sleep, happens about every 90 minutes and it’s during REM that the most vivid dreams occur. You typically go from REM back into stage two and start the cycle over, repeating the stages until morning, when the body releases cortisol to help you return to alertness.

Sleep deprivation makes you…euphoric? There’s overwhelming evidence that sleeplessness can make us irritable and moody. But researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, say it can also have another effect: short-term euphoria. Puzzled as to why people with depression may temporarily feel more positive after a sleepless night, researchers

8 SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

policies of the companies they buy from. “Overall we’re seeing a more conscientious consumer,” Hines said. Here are the five key trends Amex identified:

1

Community involvement and group buying

As more and more retail shifts to online marketplaces, consumers are increasing their reliance on community interaction while shopping. Wildly successful website Groupon offers discounts and deals that rely on group purchasing, adding a social aspect to the previously solitary process of online shopping. Amex prediction: Online coupon culture will move from desktop to mobile, integrating bargain-hunting with real-time, location-based deals.

studied the brains of 27 healthy young adults, half of whom pulled all-nighters. They found that the brain’s pleasure circuitry got a big boost after a missed night’s sleep. But the neural pathway that stimulates feelings of euphoria, reward and motivation after a sleepless night can also lead to poor judgment and risky behavior, researchers said. Sleep deprivation shuts down the brain’s key planning and decision-making regions—namely the prefrontal cortex—while activating more primal neural functions. “When functioning correctly, the brain finds the sweet spot on the mood spectrum. But the sleep-deprived brain will swing to both extremes, neither of which is optimal for making wise decisions,” said Matthew Walker, lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. “We need to ensure that people making high-stakes decisions, from medical professionals to airline pilots to new parents, get enough sleep.”

Study finds snorers earn less If you snore at night, you probably spend more and earn less during the day, according to a study conducted in Denmark.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

Sle Sho


ee p or t s

SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

2

Location-based shopping

4

Product co-creation

Facebook Places, Google Latitude and Foursquare are a few of the big players in the exploding location-based application market. Using GPS, they help connect consumers to nearby stores with deals. Many offer discounts just for visiting. Amex prediction: Mobile Internet will become a key shopping portal, serving as a personal concierge to revolutionize the shopping process.

As the online shopping experience becomes more customizable, people are looking for opportunities to take part in the design process. The idea of co-creation is working for companies like Threadless and Nike, giving consumers the chance to play a role in the production of the merchandise. Amex prediction: Consumers will expect to play a bigger part in creating products, which will radically change the traditional retail model.

3

Shoppers are increasingly looking for socially responsible retailers, expecting ethical and sustainable practices on the part of the stores they patronize. Many are willing to pay a premium to support companies that support charities and environmental causes. Amex prediction: Consumers will increasingly expect brands to engage in philanthropy and seek out companies whose actions match their own beliefs.

Buying local

As location-based shopping continues to boom, customers are also more location-conscious. The confluence of local shopping and online retail will increase as brands tailor their offerings to include local retailers and locally sourced products. Amex prediction: Consumers will increasingly patronize smaller shops, local vendors and brands.

Just to treat their sleep disorders, snorers spent about $1,000 extra a year, sleep apnea sufferers paid more than $5,000 and those with obesity hypoventilation syndrome shelled out a whopping $15,000. What’s worse is that the patients with these conditions were less equipped to pay for their treatments. Unemployment was 30% higher and those who had jobs earned significantly lower paychecks.  Undoubtedly, the detrimental effects of sleep loss that results from these conditions explain why snorers are poorer than their well-rested counterparts.

Men more disturbed by snoring partner Men are far more likely to complain that their sleep is disturbed by their partner’s snoring than women, according to a new research. Ironic, since it’s men that snore the most. In a study of 14,000 couples, 30% of men complained that they were kept awake by their partner’s snoring (which can be a sign of sleep apnea) or coughing, compared to 20%

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

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Ethical companies

of women, reports London’s The Daily Mail. But the study also found that women tend to have more trouble getting to sleep and often wake up several times during the night. Almost a quarter (24%) of female participants said they struggled to nod off three nights a week compared to 18% of men; 26% of women said they had “poor” sleep quality compared to 20% of men.

Sleep less, eat more When we don’t get enough sleep, we tend to eat more, according to a study at Columbia University. Researchers found that adults of normal weight who slept 4 hours consumed about 300 more calories a day than those who slept 9 hours. Women averaged 329 more calories a day if they were sleep-deprived, while men averaged 263 more calories. The worst news is that the extra calories consumed mostly came from saturated fat. “If sustained, the dietary choices made by people undergoing short sleep could predispose them to obesity and increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” the researchers wrote in an American Heart Association news release.

SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

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SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

U.K. tests reveal mattress deterioration

Italian bed costs a mere $6.4 million

T

ests done by England’s Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) show that a mattress may have deteriorated by as much as 70% after 10 years of use, according to a release from the U.K.’s Sleep Council. In fact, the FIRA tests demonstrated that beds as little as six years old could offer significantly less support and comfort than a new one, the Council said. “When we disassembled the used mattresses, all of them showed a loss of height and, although it was not possible to see any dust mites or allergens as these are not visible to the naked eye, a covering of dust, skin cells and fiber on the back of one insulator was clearly visible,” said Phil Reynolds, senior manager of technical services at FIRA, who conducted the testing. The mattresses were also tested for dust mites and their allergens. Just two micrograms per gram (mcg/g) of dust mite allergen can cause hypersensitivity in asthma sufferers and 10 mcg/g can pose a serious health risk. According to the Medical Entomology Centre in Cambridge, about one in five old mattresses contain between two and 10 mcg/g of dust mite allergen and one in 20 has above 10 mcg/g. The findings, together with the results of a survey of U.K. consumers, were released in March as part of the Sleep Councilsponsored National Bed Month campaign. For more information, visit www.sleepcouncil.com.

That’s the price tag on a bed by British designer Stuart Hughes—and it could well be the world’s most expensive. Carved from ash, cherry and chestnut woods, it’s festooned with Italian silk curtains and gilded with solid 24-karat gold leaf. Diamond accents in the headboard are optional. Each bed, handcrafted by Italian production partner Hebanon by Fratelli Basile Interiors, is expected to take three months to make, giving purchasers plenty of time to pick out the perfect, pricey mattress to go with it.

BEDDING BIZ BEAT Dollar sales (wholesale) for mattresses and foundations were up nearly 5% in February, compared to February 2010, according to the International Sleep Products Association. But the increase, reported by a sample of 19 U.S. producers, was largely a function of rising prices. Unit shipments for February were actually down 3%, while average unit price rose 8.1%.

Mattresses & Foundations in Millions of Wholesale Dollars Sample of Leading Producers

$370

$389 $335 $325

$316

$335

$335 $344

$355 $367

$383

$402

Percent change +4.7%

Percent change -2.8%

Percent change +6.0%

Percent change +2.9%

Percent change +3.3%

Percent change +4.9%

September

October

November

December

January

February

■ 2009 ■ 2010 ■ 2011

10 SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


The cover story

Mapping out a better retail experience Walking in the mattress shopper’s shoes is a good place to start

14 SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


By Jim Joseph Author of The Experience Effect

P

ut yourself in the mattress shopper’s shoes. The minute you walk in the door, you know it’s not going to be much fun. It’s kind of a sinking feeling that starts to hit you in the stomach. You’re going to spend a lot of money on something you will use a lot but know very little about: a mattress. There are so many choices spread out in front of you, along with a couple of hungry salespeople waiting to hook you in. This is a high-risk situation—you buy the wrong mattress and your future is full of sleepless nights. But who knows what the right mattress is? It’s different for every person. There’s not a lot of real help in the store either—just a lot of choices and a lot of pressure to make a decision on the spot. You feel foolish lying down on the mattresses, even though that’s really the only way of getting any sense of which one to pick. In fact, lying down on mattress after mattress with people staring at you is hardly the way to relieve buying stress. I’m feeling overwhelmed just thinking about it. So what do people do? They go online. It’s amazing how much information is available online in the mattress category. Price comparisons and feature evaluators, of course, but also so many comments from users. We’ve come to the point in our shopping behavior where we value the opinions of other shoppers more than we do that of salespeople, sorry to say. It just seems to be more real and objective coming from someone like us. Pretty much all of the information a mattress shopper needs is online, organized in a way that makes it relatively easy to compare, quick to learn and fun to share. But you can’t actually try any of the mattresses, which is the huge advantage of being in an actual retail environment. Plus, it would be nice to have an expert—a professional sales “consultant”—to help navigate the territory. So how do brick-and-mortar retailers stay in the game? It’s all about improving the shopping experience.

How will your store, your products and your people help to make them healthier, fitter, smarter?

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

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SleepSavvy • May/June 2011


OVER 20,000 INSTANT WINNERS! * REBATES UP TO $1,000! *See official rules. © 2011 Simmons Bedding Company. All Rights Reserved.

National advertising for this exciting new in-store promotion starts soon. But your customers can only participate if you’re signed up. Hurry, event starts Memorial Day and ends July 4.

TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT YOUR SIMMONS REP OR GO TO SIMMONSDEALERS.COM


THE COVER STORY

mapping out a better experience Specialty mattress retailers have an incredible opportunity to reinvent the mattress shopping experience, making it much more valuable to the customer than any online interaction. The big box retailers certainly aren’t doing it. They just line the products up against the wall, stack them or rack them, offering no way of identifying the best option for each customer. No “try on” here and no sales help. There’s a great opportunity for mattress retailers to own the shopping experience and thereby own the mattress category again. Easier said than done, I know. But if you take it step by step, you will see that it’s not all that complicated. A little common sense with a focused marketing approach and you are on your way. Walk the process Start by taking an objective look at the current shopping experience in your store. Pretend you are a potential customer and walk it. Break down the entire process, from the moment a shopper walks in the door to the moment the mattress is delivered and set up. Observe it. Take notes on what’s working and what’s not working. Is it pleasant or stressful? Are you competitive with the online retailers and the other brick-and-mortar stores? Better yet, are you better? The key is to make sure that every step in the buying process is meaningful, satisfying and engag-

ing. Then, and only then, will you have customers enjoying your store more than others and more than the online experience. Take a look at what the actual experience is and then compare it to what would be an ideal experience. C’mon, you’re a consumer—you know how you like to be treated! Map the experience Sit down and literally map out the entire store experience. Or, as people who make TV ads and videos say, “Write a storyboard.” Frame by frame, map out what you want your customers to do as they walk through the store—where you want them to start and how they should finish, including every step in between. When mapping out the ideal experience, make sure you take into consideration the customers’ wants and needs, not just what you think is right. How do you figure that out? Maybe you should ask them! What do they want when they enter the store? What are they hoping to accomplish by spending their valuable time in your store? Do a customer survey. Ask shoppers questions about what they are looking for and what would help them to make a decision. Ask customers who bought your product and those who didn’t—you’ll get a much fuller perspective. An important part of mapping the experience is to figure out

when and how a salesperson should interact with the customer versus when and how customers get to try the mattresses privately. Professional consultation and actually lying on the mattresses are the key advantages that brick-and-mortar retailers have over the Internet. Both components need to be mapped out correctly to close the sale. Changing salespeople from “driving sales” to “offering advice” will go a long way toward changing the retail experience. Most people don’t respond to hovering and pressure. Take a hard look at how and where shoppers are expected to get onto the mattresses. Most mattress retailers have their floor models lined up like cars or coffins—not very inviting or private. Think about creating a more private area, with beautiful bed accessories, that would make for a more comfortable, enjoyable experience.

The key is to make sure that every step in the buying process is meaningful, satisfying and engaging. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

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THE COVER STORY

mapping out a better experience Identify your ‘brand’ There are a lot of details to manage and it’s critical to have them all coordinated. As you think through this process, continue to take a step back and decide what you want the overall experience to be for your consumers. Think strategically first, about the kind of retail “brand” you want to be. Every brand has a personality. What’s yours? The in-store experience must be consistent with your brand’s personality. Do you want to create a highpressure environment focused solely

on sales? That may well be what you have right now. If so, OK—at least you are doing it consciously. Then construct the in-store experience to reflect that. I’m not sure how many consumers will really want to join you in that kind of experience, but that’s your choice. Think through other options that may be more appealing to your customers. The majority of them are women. Perhaps you could create a homier environment. A mattress is something the customer will put in a bedroom, not a garage. So help her

e Engag my ns emotio

experience what that mattress might be like in her own bedroom. If you think that makes sense strategically, then identify ways to make the instore experience replicate a homelike experience. Engage the emotions To engage with consumers, you need to fulfill their needs, wants and desires, both rationally and emotionally. You must communicate with them, take care of them and add value to their lives. Marketers tend to spend the bulk of their time on the rational part so consumers can make an informed decision, but the emotional component is just as important. Great brands make both rational and emotional connections with customers to create what I call “The Experience Effect”—the title of my 2010 book. Give customers the facts and product attributes they need so they can make a rational choice, but also give them the emotional connection they want in their lives. How will your store, your products and your people help to make them healthier, fitter, smarter? The key is to do this consistently across your brand’s touchpoints—in advertising, on the Internet, in the

Walking in the shopper’s shoes

A mattress retail store experience checklist By Nancy Butler ustomers form opinions and impressions from the moment they pull into your parking lot. You, on the other hand, have worked there long enough that you may be oblivious to what shoppers are experiencing. Take a morning or afternoon to walk in your customers’ shoes, using this checklist to help you evaluate key areas:

C

✔ Parking. Is store parking accessible and easy? Is it clean, well marked and safe? Is it well lighted so after-dark customers feel secure? A bad parking situation can keep a

18 SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

potential customer from even getting out of her car.

✔ Windows and doors. When you approach the storefront, take a good look at the windows and entrance. They make a very important first impression. Are they clean? Are the displays and signage attractive, up to date and well lighted? Don’t make the customer struggle to open the doors—make it easy and inviting. Remnants of old signs and streaky glass telegraph that you really don’t care. Continued on page 20

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THE COVER STORY

mapping out a better experience store, right through the delivery and follow-up. As part of your experience mapping process, make a list of all of your store’s consumer touchpoints. Even the smallest detail—your discount coupon, your email signature, how you answer the phone—are part of the experience effect. What do you want the consumer’s experience to be at every touchpoint? Involve the salespeople Your store’s salespeople need to be involved in this process. As the public face of your brand, they become the brand experience. It’s important to get them thinking about the in-store experience and get them fully committed to making it a pleasant and memorable one for shoppers. The bottom line for mattress retailers is clear. Without an engaging retail experience, salespeople are forced to compete on price and convenience. That’s when brick-and-mortar retailers lose out to the Internet. Need a little inspiration? Take a look at the retail experience of

Mattress specialty retailers have an incredible opportunity to reinvent the mattress shopping experience. The Disney Store, J. Crew and Nordstrom—visit their stores, look at their websites and other online touchpoints. These are retail brands that have carefully mapped out their retail experience, much like we’ve been discussing here. They know who they are as a brand, they know their consumer really well and they have created a finely honed, unique in-store experience to satisfy their consumers’ needs and wants. They get results that prove it, year after year. You can create the same kind of experience effect for your store. ●

✔ Comfort zone. Once a customer is inside the door, she’ll need a little space to “decompress” before she’s ready to shop. Is the entrance crowded with a confusion of signage or products? Is the customer unable to catch her breath before she’s descended upon by the nearest RSA? When she is approached, make sure that the customer’s personal space is not violated by an RSA who gets a little too “up close and personal” (that applies throughout the interaction). ✔ Cleanliness. Nothing turns off a female customer faster than a dirty store. Are the floors vacuumed, surfaces dusted, walls and signs free of scuffs and dings? Are the floor models clean and tidy—no dirty foot protectors, pillows tossed around, cutaways out of place? Make store cleaning a daily activity and tidy up after every product presentation.

20

SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

Jim Joseph is the author of The Experience Effect: Engage Your Customers with a Consistent and Memorable Brand Experience, published in 2010. He is president of Lippe Taylor Brand Communications in New York and specializes in building consumer brands. His client experience includes such names as Kellogg’s, Kraft, Cadillac and Walmart. You can reach Jim by email at jim@jimjosephexp.com or by phone at 917-363-7154.

✔ Graphics and signage. Are your graphics and signs clear, easy to read, eye-catching and appealing? Do they complement the store and the merchandise—or compete with them? Do they support your product presentation— or just get in the way? Does your signage reinforce the important role a mattress purchase will play in the customer’s life—her sleep, health and overall well-being? ✔ Advertising follow-through. Is the product or promotion your store is currently advertising reflected in prominent in-store signage? In the RSA’s greeting and presentation? It should be!

✔ Decor and lighting. Remember that a mattress customer is selecting a personal item for her bedroom. Does your store decor help the customer envision what it would be like to have your best bed in her home? Appealing, bedroom-like colors? Nice carpeting? Perhaps a few

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THE COVER STORY

mapping out a better experience accessories to add a touch of home and a bit of color to a largely white product lineup—plants, night tables, bedside lamps, decorative throws? Be sure all areas are well lighted, but check to make sure overhead spots don’t blind the customer while she’s lying down.

✔ Sound. What do you hear in your store? Music can help to create an inviting, relaxing atmosphere for trying out beds, but choose it for your customers’ pleasure, not your staff’s, and keep the volume low. ✔ Smell. How does your store smell? You stop noticing after awhile (it’s called “extinction”), but to the customer, it’s obvious. Leftover lunch is likely to be a turn-off, but baking cookies might make customers feel at home. Fragrancing a store can have a powerful emotional appeal that supports product presentation. Just be sure to test it with people representing a range of possible customers—and keep it subtle. Pleasant smells can be as annoying as unpleasant ones if they’re too strong.

22 SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

✔ Product display. Is the way the beds (and related accessories) are positioned and displayed on the floor appealing and inviting or boring and off-putting? Spending time on creative display may seem like a waste when it comes to the bedding category, but a haphazard mattress display that assumes the customer doesn’t care how it looks can be a big mistake, especially with women—and particularly if you want to draw attention to the better beds. ✔ Product access. Does the layout of your store and the product arrangement make it easy for customers (and RSAs) to navigate, to differentiate between good/ better/best and, most importantly, to access each floor model so they can try it out? If a plus-sized man or woman doesn’t have enough room between beds to be comfortable, that sale will go elsewhere.   ✓ Privacy. When you lie down to try various beds in your store, are you in a heavily trafficked area? Near a window where people can look in and see you? Are the

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THE COVER STORY

mapping out a better experience RSAs instructed to stick with the customer no matter what? Lying down and rolling around on mattresses in a store is embarrassing. Look for ways to adjust product layout and presentation to provide customers—especially women—with a sense of privacy.

✔ Checkout. The counter or desk where you complete the paperwork is the last in-store impression you make on the customer. Is it neat, clean and well organized? Keep personal items and clutter out of sight; discard all trash.

✔ Bathrooms. They do reflect on your store. Are your

your store come together to create a cohesive, appealing image and personality? Is there a match between the look of your store, your product mix, the music, the lighting, the signage and graphics, and the way customers are treated by the store personnel? Do all of these elements combine to tell a compelling, positive story to each customer? It might be an interesting project to get everyone who works for the company to walk your store, use this checklist, then sit down together to compare notes (or maybe submit them to the “big boss” without attribution, so everyone can be candid). Doing this will help store management capture the shopper’s perspective and use it to identify areas that need improvement or change. ●

bathrooms scrupulously clean? Always stocked with towels, toilet paper, soap and room spray? It’s important to check them frequently.

✔ Kids’ space. What happens when mom shoppers come in with their kids in tow? Have you set aside a safe, clean corner of the store with a few games and toys to keep kids happy while you talk to their mom about a new bed? ✔

Service offers. Do you have great service offers that will impress your customers with what you’re willing to do to for them? Are you communicating those services to customers as soon as they come in the store?

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

✔ Overall store personality. Does everything in

SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

23


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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

The Great American Homestore Mid-South furniture retailer does a big job in specialty beds, adds dollars with motion bases By Nancy Butler Photography by Tim Cobb

A

Bedding Manager Jeff Crosby in the Southaven, MS, store

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full-line home furnishings retailer serving the mid-South from two locations, the Great American Homestore (GAHS) lives up to its name with more than 125,000 square feet of selling space and 155,000 square feet of warehouse. Founded in 2003 by Corinthian furniture owner Vic Etheridge, the flagship store is located in Southaven, MS, and a second store is about 25 miles away in Memphis, TN. GAHS has always carried mattresses, but a few years back, the company began making a bigger push into the hugely profitable category, according to Jeff Crosby, bedding manager, who joined the company in 2006. The selection was expanded and a strong advertising program was initiated to increase mattress shopper traffic. It proved to be a savvy strategy as the recession took hold and mattress sales fared much better than most categories in the hard-hit furniture business. Last year, the mattress department in Southaven was redesigned to create a 3,000-square-foot store-within-a-store, the Great American Homestore Sleep Shop. A similar redesign is in the works for the Memphis location. “We love bedding—it has great margins, high turns,” says Crosby. “It’s become a huge part of our business.” SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

25


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

GAHS sells about 15% of all specialty mattresses with motion bases.

Shoppers within a 100-mile radius come to shop at the Great American Homestore—the largest furniture retailer in the area. “We

26 SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

get people from Arkansas, even Missouri,” says Crosby, who also serves as sales manager and an RSA in the 60,000-square-foot Southaven store. A huge assortment and a broad price range are major attractions for buyers in every home furnishings category. In bedding, the two stores carry Simmons, Tempur-Pedic, Sealy, Englander and Scandinavian. Queen prices range from $239 to $3,999, but the lowest advertised price is $699. The sweet spot is $699 to $1,099, Crosby says, “But our RSAs do a really good job of selling at the high end.”

We love bedding GAHS sales associates—16 in Southaven and 18 in Memphis—are trained to sell every category in the store. But they’re particularly enthusiastic about selling bedding, says Crosby, who handles the training in the mattress category. Why? Because he tells RSAs from the beginning, “You can make more money on mattresses than anywhere else in the store.” In fact, when a customer is greeted, she’ll almost always be asked: “Did you come in for our bedding sale?”—even before the RSA knows what she’s shopping for. There’s www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

GAHS lives up to its name with a broad selection of all types of home furnishings.

always the possibility that a nonbedding customer might take a look around the Sleep Shop. Crosby relishes the time he personally spends on the sales floor. “I love helping customers get a good night’s sleep,” he says. “I ask them to call me back in 30 days and tell me how they’re doing. The ones who do call always tell me how much they love their new mattress.” (He assumes those that don’t call are also satisfied, or he’d get a different kind of call.) “A mattress is the most important thing people buy for their home—I want them to understand that! It’s 25% of your life,” Crosby stresses. It’s a message he makes sure GAHS RSAs are passing along to their customers. “Information is coming out daily about the importance of good sleep to health and we’re talking to our customers about that as much as we can.” Getting to know you “We work hard to get to know each customer really well in the walk to the bedding department,” www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

says Crosby. “The getting-toknow-you conversation is critical. It’s about finding something that suits that customer’s needs and comfort level.” Customers are greeted promptly, but if they say “Just looking”, there’s a no-pressure response: “Great, we’re happy that you’re looking with us. My name is Jeff.” Crosby adds that, “I’ll walk where they’ll eventually come to me—which is usually to their right.” (He had read that shoppers instinctively walk to the right, according to retailing guru Paco Underhill, who specializes in observing shopping behavior.) When an RSA identifies a shopper as a bedding customer, they’ll exchange names, then start with the essentials on the way to the Sleep Shop: Who is this for? What size? What’s wrong with your current mattress? When was the last time you bought? This last question is an important one, Crosby says. “A lot of people aren’t aware of how the cost of good bedding has

changed.” But the RSAs don’t ask customers what price range they’re looking for. The philosophy is, “Let’s take the time to find something that’s comfortable for you—then we’ll talk about price.” The approach Crosby instills in the RSAs is soft sell. “I would never hard-sell a mattress. I comfort sell,” he says. “We get customers who’ve been to competitors who try to hard-sell them and they didn’t feel like they were getting treated well. We want the customers to come back to us—for all of their home furnishings.” Starting at the top As far as Crosby is concerned, you can’t do the most effective job of comfort selling without getting customers to try the best. He tells sales associates, “Don’t be afraid of the higher-priced mattresses—they don’t bite. You can always work your way down.” In Southaven’s redesigned Sleep Shop, full height walls—painted a a relaxing soft green—offer matSleepSavvy • May/June 2011

27


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

tress customers plenty of privacy for spending however much time it takes to make the ideal selection. GAHS partnered with vendors on signage to complement the decor, putting visual emphasis on relaxation and health, Crosby says. Each store floors 30 to 35 models with a broad assortment of innerspring and foam choices. GAHS does particularly well with highend foam, so customers are almost always asked, “Have you ever tried a foam mattress?” as soon as they enter the Sleep Shop. Unless a customer says she absolutely doesn’t want foam, she’s typically told, “I’m going to let you try the best” (memory foam at $3,999). Crosby says it definitely helps to be able to offer a variety of ways to

finance a mattress buy. “We can tell the customer, ‘It’s only going to cost you $150 a month’—that’s well within lots of people’s budgets,” he says. Taking the time to make sure the customer fully experiences her options makes for a satisfied customer and a sale that stays sold. That’s a good thing because GAHS doesn’t offer a comfort guarantee. Says Crosby, “If the customer asks, ‘What if I don’t like it?’, I’ll say ‘Stay here and relax for 15 or 20 minutes. I’ll be back. Take your time!’” Adding to the ticket GAHS has definitely climbed aboard the motion-base bandwagon. Many of its specialty beds, including the $3,999 memory foam, are shown on an adjustable base. “We definitely

make adjustables part of the presentation whenever we can,” says Crosby. There’s no downside to presenting motion bases, he says—and the upsides are compelling: ● They add $1,200 to $3,200 to the ticket ● They add significant dollars to the RSAs’ commissions ● They’re great for the customers’ comfort. GAHS’s motion-base suppliers are Tempur-Pedic and Leggett & Platt. According to Crosby, the stores sell about 25% of Tempur-Pedic mattresses and about 15% of all specialty mattresses with motion bases. The secret? It’s not rocket science. “You’ve got to show it and you’ve got to advertise it,” he says.

Panama Jack® and Hickory at Home have introduced a new branded line of high-quality futons and frames for retail stores. There are four tropical-themed futon/ frame combinations constructed from materials including Hickory Springs’ bio-based Preserve® foam, natural cotton felt, recycled steel coils, and recycled fiber. Each futon frame and mattress is sold as a set. WWW.HICKORYATHOME.COM 828.328.2201 #4562 800.438.5341 #4562

28 SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

Pillows—from Tempur-Pedic and Scandinavian—are also presented as part of the overall sleep system and they’re displayed on the mattresses. “If a customer doesn’t like the one that’s on the bed, we suggest a different one,” Crosby explains. “They’re invited to take one they like with them to the next mattress.” At $129 to $159, “A pillow sale may be a little money now,” he says. “But pillows can make a big difference in meeting sales goals for the month—or for the year.” By showing a system rather than just a mattress, GAHS sales associates give customers the experience of what the best can really feel like. “We stress that if they try a mattress with an adjustable base and a great pillow, unless they buy all of them,

The storefront in Southaven, MS.

the bed won’t feel the same when they get it home,” says Crosby. The added dollars—and added sales commissions—can be truly impressive, he says. “Retailers are finally realizing what’s been left on the table in the past.” ●

make more sales by making your beds.

If you’re only selling your customers mattresses, headboards and bed rails, you’re leaving a lot of money on the sales floor. That’s where Hickory at Home’s Final Touch comes in — by opening up a top-of-bed retail store within your store. Choose from three different footprints — 300, 150, or 75 sq. ft — fully stocked with top-of-bed accessories like sheets, pillows, down comforters and mattress pads beautifully designed to help you make more sales by helping your customers finish making their beds. To see how Hickory at Home’s Final Touch fits into your plans to wake up your sales, call 1-800-438-5341 Ext 4562.

www.hickoryathome.com (828) 328.2201 ext. 4562 • (800) 438.5341 ext. 4562 © 2010 Hickory Springs Mfg. Co.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

29


MARKET SCENE High Point highlights

M

ore mattress makers joined the ranks of exhibitors at the April High Point Market, showcasing their lines to the many East Coast retailers and international buyers who attended the event. While the market was not a major venue for introductions in the bedding category, Sleep Savvy spotted an array of interesting new and updated products and programs. Encased coil systems paired with latex and memory foam, new POP support programs for retailers and partnerships with companies based abroad were among the stars. All retail prices are for queen size.

❸ ❶ International Bedding repositioned its recently licensed line of Airsprung beds—which retail for $599 to $1,999—as “Beautiful Beds at Comfortable Prices.” IB has embraced the brilliant red-rose motif of the venerable U.K. company in a dramatic new branding program for the collection, said Mark Wozniak, vice president of marketing. ❷ Paramount launched two new collections. The A.H. Beard high-end innerspring group is produced under license from the Australian brand; beds retail for $3,000 to $5,000. The “Sleep for Success” collection was developed in conjunction with sleep expert Dr. James Maas (pictured). The three beds include encased micro-coils, latex and Celliant fiber and are offered in three configurations for stomach, back and side sleepers, all retailing at $2,499. ❸

30 SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

Comfort Solutions returned to High Point for the first time in more than a decade, showcasing revamped Sleep ID software with BodyMatch technology, which supports its dual-comfort Sleep ID collection. Retailers were also drawn to the company’s redesigned Laura Ashley collection with new top-of-bed styling in three vivid colorways, said Owen Shoemaker, senior vice president of product development and marketing.

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❹ Gold Bond beefed up its two-sided SacroSupport Encased Coil line with the new Camelot bed. Retailing for $1,199, the two-sided box pillow-top mattress is packed with high-end features, including a premium coil system, specialtyfoam comfort layers and a plush, stretch-knit rayon cover emblazoned with medallions, said Bob Naboicheck, president. ❺ Therapedic updated its Pure Touch line of latex beds with a super-stretch, non-quilted cover, which offers superior conformity and comfort, pared with plush coffee-cream velour borders. The beds retail for $1,299 to $1,999, said Gerry Borreggine, president.

❻ Boyd Specialty Sleep launched Planet Sleep, retailing for $1,299 to $1,999. The beds have bamboo rayon ticking and layers of vented and zoned polyurethane foams topped with breathable, open-cell Stay-Cool memory foam, said John Clark (seated), southern regional vice president of sales, pictured here with (left to right) Larry Wride, east coast sales manager, and Dan Mocias, western regional vice president of sales.

❼ Magniflex showed off its new zippered, washable linen pillow covers that match its Naturally Magniflex line of linen-covered mattresses. There are four foam pillow silhouettes with linen covers retailing for $99 to $159, said Andrea Mugnai, general manager.

❽ Carolina Mattress Guild honored its 20th anniversary with the Platinum Edition, a threebed collection available during 2011 only. Each has encased coils, layers of latex, memory foam and silk and wool fiberfill, with contrasting Wedgwood-blue, micro-denier fabric in the gusset, foundation border, foot streamers and decorative pillows, said Kathy Grigg, owner. The beds are priced at $799 to $1,099.

❾ Shifman introduced the Cezanne, the new top

bed in its luxurious Masters collection. Priced at $7,399, the two-sided innerspring mattress has layers of pashmina cashmere, cotton and natural latex. It sits atop an eight-way, hand-tied box spring and has solid-brass corner guards and a high-end damask cover. It’s a “work of art,” said Bill Hammer, president.

Zedbed showed off the glamorous Crystal collection, a new three-bed group with layers of latex and memory foam over a pressure-relieving core. The beds have a shimmery silver cover with a flamboyant knit pattern and retail for $1,899 to $2,899, said David Gelinas, director of marketing.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

31


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BE MY GUEST by Dave Robben

Sometimes I like to sit back and remember the glory days of bedding retailing ...the days when you turned your store and parking lot into a somewhat milder version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Purple gorillas teamed with road signs and inflatable dancing guys to make your location as conspicuous as possible. Inside was a mixture of financing applications, helium balloons, streamers and more 50% to 70% off signs than you could shake a stick at. Most retailers didn’t focus on the customers needs, just on the savings opportunities. As for consumers, they just wanted a deal and figured if it didn’t work out, they would put the mattress in one of their spare bedrooms and buy another. Those times were fun and probably profitable for many. But they are long gone—and some of us still need to accept that. I’m not saying that it’s time to shove those inflatables and streamers in the storage closet. Clearly there is still a need to attract customers to the showroom. But in today’s market, it’s what you do when they enter the store that determines your success. If you want my money… you have to listen to me I recently had a customer in my store who cut me off before I could get the first word out of my mouth. Instead of “Welcome”, she got “Welc.” She informed me right away that she was “just looking.” (I’ve never heard that one before!) I gave her a second and politely www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

asked if she knew what she was looking for. She responded with one word: “Cheap.” (You’re all incredibly shocked by this I’m sure.) I replied, “Let me show you where our beds start of in terms of price. But if you don’t mind, I would like to ask you a few questions to help you narrow down the selection even more.” My customer looked puzzled and still semiannoyed, but after about three minutes, we determined that her hatred of the mattress shopping process stemmed from three bad mattress purchases in the last five years. Turns out that she had purchased “closeouts” and “super-duper specials” in the $400 to $600 range. She never liked how they felt and they didn’t last. After about 10 minutes, I finally got her to crack a smile and warm up to me a bit. My secret? I listened to what she said. Consulting before closing = a comfortable customer We all know that assessing and solving our customers’ problems is the key to sales success, repeat business and referrals. But these days, SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

33


BE MY GUEST by Dave Robben

Success requires being a consultant before being a closer.

you have to go beyond just solving a problem. Success requires being a consultant before being a closer. A consultant looks at all the factors and helps determine a viable solution that works for everyone involved. Besides problem solving, a consultant’s biggest job is relationship building. With the current economic situation, consumers have changed, and we need to change with them. People are still spending money and purchasing mattresses, but they have a newfound emotional attachment to the money in

Safe Storage

their bank account—and they aren’t going to give it away to just anyone. They are more informed and are looking for value. You have to show them the value in your expertise, your store and your product. That’s the role I was able to play with my “just looking” customer. When we went to the desk to write up her $1,700 purchase, she told me that she had never had a more pleasant experience. Normally, mattress salespeople just walked her straight to the advertised product. She was glad that I took time to help her figure out her exact needs. It wasn’t that she wouldn’t have spent more money on a bed in the past—it was just that no one ever bothered to show her the value in a good mattress. She was left with the impression that mattresses only lasted a couple of years and she would sleep poorly regardless. Not long ago, another female customer came into my store day ready to make a purchase. She had visited many different retailers in our metropolitan area and many of my company’s locations. She wanted me to know how impressed she was at the number of female RSAs we have. She went on to explain that female sales associates just made her feel more comfortable—they asked questions, listened and were helpful. She was

careful to point out that she had no gender bias, but that her previous purchase experiences had been with men who didn’t listen—they just tried to push her into a purchase. That’s the difference between a consultant and a closer. (Just to be clear, I don’t believe this is a male vs. female problem, just a traditional sales culture problem.) It’s vital to understand and capitalize on the new consumer psyche. The new reality is that people budget for big purchases like a mattress and don’t want to have to work another mattress into the budget in a couple of years. People are planning on buying products that are higher-quality and keeping them for a longer period of time. If you show them the value—the balance of price and quality—they will make that purchase from you. Relationship building coupled with problem solving and selling the benefits will turn you into a true consultant—and possibly a bedding sales superstar. ● Dave Robben has been in the mattress business for more than seven years and currently works as a trainer for Mattress Firm. He is also an independent consultant specializing in bedding/home furnishings retail. Dave can be reached by email at dmrobben@hotmail.com.

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BACK TALK

supporting customer dreams

How to know when it’s time for a new mattress

A

lot of people just don’t know how to tell when a mattress is past its prime and needs to be replaced. Similar to a favorite pair of old running shoes, a mattress can still feel comfortable long after it has lost its ability to provide the proper body support. Below are some guidelines from the industry’s own Better Sleep Council—the consumer education arm of the International Sleep Products Association. Share them with consumers in your area.

You need a new mattress when... ✔ You wake up in the morning with stiffness, numbness, aches and pains. ✔ You had a better night’s sleep somewhere other than your own bed (such as a hotel). ✔ Your mattress shows visible signs of overuse (it sags, has lumps, the interior is exposed, etc.) ✔ Your mattress is 5–7 years old. After 5–7 years of nightly use, a mattress and its matching foundation are providing less comfort and support than they did when they were new. This can lead to a host of health problems, including chronic back pain. “People who suffer from constant backaches often find relief by getting a new mattress,” advises Todd Sinett, a New York City chiropractor and a co-author of The Truth About Back Pain. If you’re still greeting customers who are convinced that firmer is better, be sure to let them know that research studies have shown that a good bed doesn’t have to be hard as a board to be good for your back. Sleeping on a mattress that is too firm can contribute to body aches by causing pain at the pressure points and interfering with circulation. The right balance of deep-down support and contouring comfort is what your customers should be looking for—with you as their expert advisor, of course.

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SleepSavvy • May/June 2011 9024 Dream 34375x10_SS.indd 1

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CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris

With emboldened consumers, knowledge is power

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he term “empowered consumers” has been around for a while and is commonplace, appearing in many articles about retail and shopping. But things are changing. There is a growing trend that is turning empowered consumers into emboldened shoppers, especially when it comes to retail mattress sales. The word “empowered” means “endowed with authority” and it’s considered somewhat of a passive state. “Emboldened” means “to make bold or courageous”—a more active state. In other words, mattress shoppers are putting their authority to use, wielding their power to get more bang for their buck. So what is causing this trend? There are five contributing factors energizing mattress shoppers: 1. Increased competition. With so many retailers to choose from, consumers naturally want to compare. Also, mattress shoppers seldom care where they buy and know they can go elsewhere if their expectations aren’t met. 2. Multiple choices of products. With so many products available, mattress shoppers are doing more research to help lessen their confusion. 3. The Internet. Consumers are preshopping and arming themselves not only with pricing, features and benefits, but also tips on how to shop. Some are not very flattering to our industry. 4. Social media. Peer networks are having a tremendous influence on what and where people choose to buy. 5. The economy. The downturn has changed how people prioritize their spending. Seeking value has become www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

even more important to mattress shoppers. They can’t afford not to be choosy. Unfortunately, these savvy shoppers are presenting an increasing challenge. In many cases, they are more educated than RSAs, setting up a negative dynamic. Underprepared RSAs can quickly find themselves on their heels or in a power struggle and typically respond in one of two ways. Either they retreat and take the course of least resistance by dropping prices and avoiding showing top-quality products, or they become aggressive deal makers, creating a false urgency and using manipulation to close sales. Neither is good. So how should RSAs prepare? First, let’s rephrase the question and change the terminology: How can RSAs better prepare themselves to serve the people that are kind enough to give them an opportunity to earn their business? The answer is: Do what the consumer does. ● Learn as much as possible about the competition. ● Use the Internet to research the multiple choices of products on the market. Become familiar with their

components, features and benefits and any other pertinent information. ● Use social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to see what people are saying about local retailers and the brands they offer. ● Use the economy as an opportunity to teach shoppers that a quality mattress is one of the best investments of all consumer products. To be effective, RSAs must make these tasks an ongoing effort. There is a lot of information to learn and things are constantly changing. As RSAs become more empowered and more emboldened, paradoxically it transforms the power struggle into a workable—even enjoyable—interaction. Consumers quickly perceive the confidence and competence of a welltrained, knowledgeable RSA and most often will allow her or him to take the lead. Combining these qualities with compassion is what instills trust. At the end of the day, most consumers buy from someone they trust and believe has genuine concern for their well-being. Some will pay more to buy the same product from someone they trust. Knowledge is empowering. Applying knowledge to help others is emboldening. ● Gerry Morris is an author, consultant, training coach and member of the National Speakers Association. With more than 20 years of experience in the mattress industry, Gerry has helped manufacturers, retailers and RSAs around the world increase their sales. To find out what Gerry can do for your company, call 903-456-2015, email gmorris@innerspring.net or visit www.innerspring.net. SleepSavvy • May/June 2011

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Profile for International Sleep Products Association

Sleep Savvy magazine May/June 2011  

The magazine for Sleep Products professionals

Sleep Savvy magazine May/June 2011  

The magazine for Sleep Products professionals