In our book, “Come Back To Bed,” we talk about the importance of defining what business you are in.
Are you in the mattress business or are you in the life improvement business? It’s an important distinction because they deliver much different margins and require a different approach in just about every aspect of your business.
Mattress stores bring awareness and traffic by product, price, and promotion advertising. Sleep improvement stores place a strong focus on the benefits of the products they sell like better attitude, happier life, and more energy.
Mattress stores are concerned about getting to the transaction. Sleep stores are focused on helping the consumer transform their sleep life through a better understanding of their own problems and possible solutions.
Mattress stores are fighting everyone else on price, driving margins lower. Sleep stores are playing their own game adding value to the sale and the consumer experience as an authority in the market, allowing them to drive margins up.
Here’s the thing: even the retailers pushing the “sleep delivers a better quality of life” message aren’t really in the sleep improvement business if you get right down to it. Because if they were, wouldn’t their store look different?
Consider the sleep disruptors that detract from good quality REM sleep.
- Animals in bed
- Blankets, sheets, pillows
- Food and drink
- Changing schedules due to shift work
- Physical pain
- Medical conditions
- Uncomfortable mattress
If you do a proper job of interviewing a person about all of the things standing in the way of a serious log-sawing session, then some of these things will come out. If you’re in a mattress store, maybe they don’t get into it with you because why would they? It’s not like you can solve most of those problems, right?
What if you were someone that was suffering from poor sleep and really needed help? You were waking up tired and in pain. Your attitude sucked at work, you looked like hell with bags under your eyes, and you were constantly drinking caffeine and eating sweets to compensate. Where would you go for solutions? What if there was a store that could address all aspects of poor sleep?
According to original research that The FAM conducted with our partners at Nationwide Marketing Group, 36% of respondents reported that they are suffering from NEW sleep issues since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to that, over 70 million consumers were already dealing with chronic sleep problems.
If we are in the problem-solving business, instead of the mattress selling business, we shouldn’t be thinking about sneaking through a window of opportunity; we should be crashing through a set of double doors armed to the teeth with solutions.
Let’s say we got The FAM together and built our own sleep improvement store. We would feature room darkening blinds that would automatically open and close to limit light into the master suite.
We could sell noise-canceling headphones, the most comfortable pajamas you have ever imagined, and have a section with candles or diffusers that emit smells like lavender or jasmine that are proven to calm and soothe you.
How about a sleepy time tea section so you had something nice and warm to cozy up to at the end of the day, helping you create a bedtime ritual to follow that tells your body it is time to shut it down?
We could sell glasses or screen filters for computers that limit blue light that hurts the quality of sleep. Maybe feature a product like the chiliPAD that helps your body stay at a cooler temperature, enhancing sleep.
Or turn customers on to some cool meditation apps that we like, or invite them into our sleep coaching Saturdays where we bring in thought leaders to speak to customers about improving their sleep.
Back to The FAM + Nationwide Marketing research, we asked more than 2,000 mattress buyers who purchased within the past 12 months, “How likely are you to purchase your next mattress without trying it in person?”
Sixty-four percent of the respondents said they were extremely likely, very likely, or likely to purchase their next mattress without first trying it. In order to keep those consumers coming into your stores, there are three things you should consider making major priorities in your business strategy.
- Be informed and become a consultant to your customers. If your sales force has been educated on the basics of sleep health and you communicate how they are trained, you will have authority with the consumer, making your recommendations more meaningful. This works particularly well if you are asking the right questions during the “need analysis” phase of the selling process. If you are asking different questions than any other sleep shop, you will separate your business from everyone.
- Stress the importance of fitting consumers for the right mattress. For example, if you buy a bed online, how are you ever going to know if you have the right pillow for that bed? If you are talking about how the bed and pillow must work together for the best outcome, and that one must be matched to the other, then you create the need for people to come and try out several combinations to find what works best for them.
- If you have done a good job of creating a cool experience for the shopper, then you will stand out from your competitors and have the advantage in your market. REVEAL by XSENSOR does a good job of not only helping you fit a consumer for the right bed, but the process is very unique and will give your customer a more informed view of how your mattresses fit their body. Would you rather buy an expensive pair of running shoes at the Nike store in Manhattan where they video tape you running on a treadmill so they can watch it back in slow motion to pick up on the fact that you have a slight in-step that requires a different type of shoe? Or would you rather run out to Steve’s Shoes and just buy something off the shelf that could exaggerate your in-step issue and cause more pain?
If you have the right process to uncover the real need, establish credibility, and then offer up the right solution, you will be serving your consumer in the best possible way and the “store of the future concept” is a great way to accomplish that objective.
Having trouble envisioning this concept? No worries, because we asked Adam Ashborn from Reborn Marketing and Design Ltd. to help us with that.
Mark Kinsley and I got to know Adam while working at Leggett and Platt, where Adam held a very important role as a designer and project manager for all of our international trade shows. This guy is incredibly talented, so we asked him to jump in on this project.
We sent this article to Adam and challenged him to bring the concept to life in an artist rendering of what that type of store could look like and he didn’t disappoint!
So, Adam, how did you approach this project?
“The first step for Reborn in the design process was to reduce the display items typically associated with sleep store environments,” he says.“The newly formed store configuration was carefully designed so people can maneuver around the store at ease by minimizing display items allowing key items to sing by themselves.
“On entering the store through its fully glassed tinted windows, you are immediately greeted by soft lighting, the scent of lavender and jasmine from the selection of candles and diffusers, complemented by the ambient music being played through the latest speaker lamps or via the noise-canceling headphones. As you pan the room, the use of natural organic materials and plants give healing qualities closely associated with health and well-being.”
Adam could have done so many things with the space, so what actually inspired the design?
“The fusion of a wellness spa with a tech store was the key contributing factor in the design process,” he says. “Tech firms have mastered the art of minimalist store design with the product being the center of attraction. However, tech stores do have a cold sterile feeling which does not fit well with sleep store environments. The challenge then becomes how to select key interior design components from both environments and then fuse them together to create a new environment with a natural ambiance which closely resembles a wellness spa retreat.”
We love the fact that Adam went outside of the industry for inspiration because he got us to a place that not only serves human beings in a way that helps them improve their quality of life through better sleep, but he has shown us a store concept that could sell a hell of a lot of products.
I did a search for “sleep improvement stores near me,” and all I got was a bunch of sleep shop listings, which is great, but not what we’re looking for. So for now, this will continue to be an unmet need. Sure, a mattress store can address some of the problems that poor sleepers encounter, but we aren’t addressing the entire problem in our current model.
If you don’t want to carry all of these sleep-related products that’s okay because you can still serve people and your business at the same time.
Educate or affiliate. During your initial interview with the consumer, you may uncover the fact that light is a big sleep disruptor for them so then you can give them a printed copy of this article from the Cleveland Clinic and also offer up PowerShades as a possible solution. If you reach out to PowerShades for one of their affiliate links, then you can benefit from the sale as well.
Gyms have evolved from being a place to pump iron into a holistic approach to health with trainers helping you create customized exercise programs, leading spin classes and yoga sessions, and coaching you on your diet. These facilities have massage therapists available, tanning beds, and social events to bring people together forming a sense of community.
Sure, sleep is a lot different but couldn’t we be inspired by this example to expand our business into other parts of the sleep ecosystem that would help transform our customers into better sleepers?
Let’s get into the life improvement business and let that purpose drive us forward and see what kind of raving fans we can create along the way.
So, what are your ideas for creating the sleep shop of the future? Text us at 843 MARCOS 2 or, 843-627-2672 and let us know.
If you like Adam’s rendering of our concept and want to connect with him, send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.