Online mattress shopping might seem risky at first thought, but with a little research and planning, it is entirely possible to get a great bed. One of the most important things to understand is that a quick showroom test doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about a bed, and doesn’t necessarily tell you whether or not a bed will be comfortable to sleep on in the long term. In this guide, we will explain potential benefits of online mattress shopping as well as important information you should know in order to get the best bed.
Is Online Mattress Shopping Wise?
Conventional mattress retailers have long said that you must lie on a bed in a showroom for a few minutes in order to see if it is a good match. However, mattress satisfaction surveys, one study, and several retailers’ online reviews don’t necessarily support this.
Buyer’s remorse is fairly high regardless of whether people shop in showrooms or online, and getting a good bed likely depends more on one’s mattress knowledge and the retailer than on a quick test. A study from RTI found that people did not initially choose the most comfortable mattress for themselves in showroom setting. SleepLikeTheDead.com also says owner satisfaction of people who buy in stores and online show little difference. They attribute this to online shoppers often being better informed, broken-in floor models that feel different from new beds, and inconsistencies in manufacturing.
In addition to similar satisfaction rates between internet and showroom purchases, there are few benefits of online mattress shopping. Buying a bed online makes it easier to shop, as you have the convenience of browsing whenever and wherever suits your schedule. You also face less sales pressure and can spend more time researching and comparing potential beds.
Two other areas where online mattress shopping proves smart is in return policies and prices. Online retailers are aware that you are buying without trying, and many offer generous return policies to compensate, some far better than local showrooms. Additionally, the internet is very competitive for retailers, so there is a very good chance you’ll be able to get a better price online as well. Free delivery is also common among online retailers, and if you buy from out of state, there’s a good chance you’ll save on sales taxes as well.
Mattress Shopping Checklist
Here are the basic things to consider when buying a mattress online. First, we’ll highlight the short version, followed by more detailed information on the most important parts.
- Make a list of your preferences and what you want in a new bed. Defining what you want in terms of firmness, comfort layers, size, and foundation type, as well as properties like coolness and longevity can help you narrow the field. Make this list with your partner if you share a bed!
- Research the different mattress types BEFORE shopping or committing to buy. The main types include innersprings, memory foam, latex and waterbeds.
- Visit a showroom to test out types of beds you are interested in if you are unfamiliar with them. You don’t have to buy right then!
- Start researching brands, paying particular attention to mattress specifications, reviews, warranties, and store policies.
- Narrow your list to those that fit your budget and wish list, and have reviews that seem good to you.
- Before buying, be sure to read through the fine print. It is also worthwhile to check for upcoming sales or to see if you can negotiate a better deal.
- After you buy, remember to save all of your receipts, tags and paperwork just in case you end up needing to return or file a warranty claim in the future.
Compare Mattress Types & Brands
Here’s an overview of how the different mattress types compare on performance and satisfaction:
Coil type (Bonnell, Pocket, Continuous, Offset);
Foam type (Traditional, Gel, Plant-Based);
Density (low to high);
Composition (Natural, Blended, Synthetic);
Type (Talalay, Dunlop);
Affordable, widely available, lower heat and odor complaints
Excellent pain relief, good durability, good motion isolation, decent availability, often affordable
Excellent pain relief, good durability, good motion isolation, natural materials
Affordable, low heat complaints, good pain relief
Prone to motion transfer, less durable, higher pain complaints
Can have high odor and heat complaints
Can have high odor and heat complaints, fairly expensive, harder to shop for
Requires maintenance, harder to find, can be unsupportive
Info from SleepLikeTheDead.org and WhatsTheBestBed.org.
In previous articles, we’ve offered in depth comparisons and recommendations of brands based on owner reviews and quality of materials versus price. Here’s a few of our past guides that might help if you aren’t sure where to start:
Reviews are one of your biggest assets when buying a new mattress, whether locally or on the internet. Look for “third party verified” reviews on retailer websites or seek out unaffiliated consumer review websites and forums for the most unbiased perspectives. Reviews provide you insight into quality, service, and specific issues, and can be helpful for weeding out lemons. Remember, no mattress will please 100% of people, but if you see a significant proportion of people are unsatisfied or report similar problems, than it is worth noting.
Get The Best Price
While getting a comfortable bed is usually people’s top priority, getting a good deal is usually a close second. Online retailers tend to have less mark-up than retail showrooms, but many still have some room to negotiate and nearly all offer sales at specific times.
In the U.S., major holidays like Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Black Friday and others are popular days for retail sales. Stores know people are often off work and have free time to shop, so if you need a new bed near one of these days it can be worthwhile to wait. If you have a specific brand in mind, ask how they promote their specials. Some put out ads and mailers, while others may offer exclusive deals to email subscribers.
Online retailers tend to be fairly competitive, and some will match prices on similar products to earn your business. If one store has better policies or reviews while another has better prices, you might see if your preferred store is willing to negotiate. For brands that are sold through a variety of dealers, online sellers may also match or beat showroom deals as well.
Read The Fine Print
With any major purchase, it is important to know what you are getting into. Product return policies and warranties need to be read thoroughly before buying a mattress online (or in a showroom!). Stores must be able to provide these in writing even before a sale, and if a retailer refuses it might be wise to look elsewhere.
Perhaps the only major disadvantage to shopping online is that returning can be a bigger hassle, which makes understanding retailers’ policies important. Here’s what you want to look for:
- How long? You should have a minimum of 30 days to return a mattress to ensure it is a good fit.
- How much? Get specific answers as to how much you would have to pay to return or exchange if needed. This includes any restocking fees, pickup fees, return shipping fees, or any portion of the original price that would not be refunded.
- What’s excluded? Parts of your purchase may be non returnable, like pillows or foundations. Policies may also void returns if a bed is found to have stains or odors, and if so you’ll want to be sure to use a mattress cover.
- How to return? Find out how you would go about returning, for example who you would contact and what steps you would have to take.
Warranties are important to understand for any mattress purchase, no matter where you buy. Policies can often seem confusing, but there are few main things to keep an eye out for:
- Overall length? Most mattresses have warranties between 10 and 20 years.
- Full-coverage length? Full-coverage or full-replacement means that the manufacturer will repair or replace a defective bed for free (you may have to pay shipping still though). Higher-quality beds usually have around 10-15 years of full coverage.
- Prorated length? Prorated means the manufacturer will pay a decreasing percentage of replacement or repair costs depending on how long you’ve owned the bed. Warranties may include 10-15 years of prorated coverage after the initial full-coverage period.
- What’s covered? Warranties will explain what the manufacturer covers and what they consider a defect. For example, some brands may cover impressions as little as 0.75” deep, while others may cover only 1.5” or more.
- What’s excluded? Certain components may also be excluded for coverage, especially on more complex mattresses like water or adjustable base beds.
- How to claim? The warranty should also tell you how to file a claim and what documentation you will need, which is important to keep handy.
Another helpful tip for online mattress shopping is to check the store’s terms and conditions and privacy policies. On these pages, you will see how a store uses and secures your personal information, as well as additional details on their shipping and pricing policies which can be useful.
Whether you shop for your next bed in showrooms or online, the best way to make sure you get a good mattress is to be knowledgeable about beds and do your research. Learning how to compare quality, how to find reviews, and how to read policies can make all the difference. Armed with these tools, there’s no reason to be intimidated by online mattress shopping!