Winner of the Good Retail Awards’ Sustainability Initiative Award, Mattress Online, has worked to continuously enhance its business model to become more sustainable and eco-friendly. Modern Retail had the pleasure of speaking with Steve Adams, CEO of Mattress Online about his inspirational approach to retail.
Meet Mattress Online
Founded in 2003, UK-leading retailer of mattresses and beds, Mattress online has continuously evolved to not only meet customer expectations, but to also go above and beyond in shaping the future of retail. They have made it their mission to improve people’s sleep.
Changing attitudes towards sustainability
Steve spoke about the changes that he has noticed since the beginning of Mattress Online, including the ways that suppliers work and growing consumer expectations.
“There has been a noticeable change in people’s attitudes towards sustainability. It wasn’t even on the agenda in our industry five years ago and there was no support from factories – they didn’t even have the right materials at the time. The consumer mindset has changed dramatically. The expectations of what a good company is have also changed and we’ve embraced that because it’s the right thing to do.”
Introducing sustainability initiatives
Mattress Online has introduced a number of sustainable initiatives, from mattress recycling schemes to even updating the uniform that their team wear. Steve explained the process of introducing these ideas.
“We started our recycling programme six years ago and as well as being a more sustainable way of working, it is also solving problems for our customers in a non-profit way From an internet and online perspective, we are leading the way and last year, we recycled 40,000 mattresses, which was a record for us.
“Trying to do this sustainably with the recycling of mattresses has been a challenge because they’re such a big thing to move around the country. We currently have two central points for recycling, but I’m working on figuring out how to recycle them more locally and use less transport. One of my key initiatives is to find out how to make that work and remove packaging. We’re already moved to 100% recyclable and recycled packaging which was a significant investment.
“When we deliver, we collect the customer’s old mattress at the same time, so things like this are major considerations with our carriers, as we don’t want to send out a second van and waste a journey.
“We’ve gone for a rebrand with a new logo which we launched at the end of 2021 and also got new uniforms that are made from recycled materials. We are proud to say that we live by what we say.”
Finding the right suppliers
One of the challenges that many retailers face is the ability to find the right suppliers to help them on their sustainability journey. At Mattress Online, they have made significant progress in this area, as well as continuing to set the bar high in terms of future goals.
“It’s only been the last two years where manufacturers have taken the eco aspect on board. For example, the polysprung mattress is a niche type of mattress that has always been more easily recyclable, but they weren’t previously advertised with the eco aspect. The changes we’ve put in place have been down to a combination of us launching an eco and vegan-friendly category, as well as us asking questions about sustainability to our suppliers. This has taken time and money as we want to be able to make mattresses recyclable at the end of life quickly and efficiently, as well as taking this into account during production. Mattresses are being made in ways that make them easier to deconstruct, so in the future I expect this to be more simple.”
Winning at The Good Retail Awards
Steve explained what winning the Sustainability Initiative Award at the Good Retail Awards means to him and the team.
“This is our first national award that is out of our industry. The amount of interaction we’ve had internally and on LinkedIn has been great. Everybody knows we do a lot of sustainable things but to be recognised with such strong competition is great. Staff are motivated and can see why we ask the hard questions from our manufacturers, why we’ve switched out materials and why we do what they do. Externally we’ve had so many congratulations from peers and factories and suppliers and agency partners too.”
The future of Mattress Online
As Mattress Online works to continue making their business more sustainable, they also revealed their move into local commerce.
Buying an existing business
“We’re about to complete for a shop in North Yorkshire, buying an existing business that has been there for 51 years from an owner that wants to retire. So we’ve bought a business that is ready to go, keeping the same name and staff. It’s in an area where we don’t have a lot of online penetration, which we can see by analysing our data and looking at the places that we are not delivering to.”
The plan for the new shop
“From a sustainability perspective, it makes perfect sense. We’ll continue to sell the same products in this shop. With around 25,000 mattresses in stock, we’ll be able to supply the store with these. We will be renting a nearby warehouse, so customers can have products available easily. We’ll also be pushing vacuum packed and rolled mattresses, which are great for transport as you can get more products in each delivery, fitting double the number of mattresses in one van.”
A memorable instore experience
While it may be unusual for online businesses to set up a significant physical presence, Mattress Online’s approach lends itself perfectly to providing a stand-out instore and omnichannel experience.
“With a team of 73, we will keep growing and combining traditional products with cutting-edge technology. We will have tablets instore for customers to see user-generated content such as reviews, rather than just speaking with a salesperson. We want to help them to get a real, rounded view so that they are happily able to justify such an important purchase. When someone phones up for advice or visits, they also get a person in a store that knows the business and it makes such a difference, as they are experts.”
Future plans for Mattress Online
As well as continuing to improve the ways in which they can be more sustainable, Mattress Online is set to open more brick-and-mortar stores, providing an outstanding customer experience to suit the ways that people like to shop. Steve added:
“We are targeting 7-10 stores and want to open one every six months, creating a great opportunity for customers to enjoy local commerce in the areas that don’t buy online as much.”
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail’s Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today’s ever-changing market.