Casper is the original ‘bed in a box’ – it’s a direct-to-consumer ecommerce company selling foam mattresses which are hydraulically compressed into boxes. The US-based company has yet to be active in the New Zealand market, but a handful of its many global copycats are already shaking up what co-founder Jeff Chapin refers to as “Big Mattress”.
Chapin spoke for the CEO Summit at Villa Maria Estate last week. In his talk, he foregrounded Casper not as a mattress retailer, but as the first “sleep lifestyle company”, positioning it alongside Lululemon, Nike and Wholefoods.
Chapin summarises its mission as, “We want to help you dream your way to a better life.”
Before Casper was launched in April 2014, Chapin says, he’d noticed the emerging wellness trend, and realised there was a gap in the market for a market-leading company that focused on sleep as an aspect of overall wellness.
When it launched, Casper went to market with a single style of foam mattress sold in six US sizes and compressed into a box for easy shipping. The team had manufactured 150 mattresses by launch day, but within the first few hours, 193 had already sold. Chapin says it took two years for Casper to get on top of its back-orders.
The company had sales of US$1 million in the first month; US$100 million in 2015; and US$300 million in 2017.
Due to its core direct-to-consumer business model, Chapin says Casper can offer a lower price point than mainstream competitors. The original Casper mattress is priced at US$995 for a Queen size, with free shipping in the US and Canada. Casper has since expanded into selling bedlinen, pillows and other logical add-ons.
“We can sell a very nice product at a price that’s 40 percent of the equivalent quality,” Chapin says.
For a long time, Chapin says, Casper held no inventory and simply shipped its product directly from the factory to customers. It was always cashflow-positive, too.
“This is an incredibly simple business,” Chapin says. “Building a website that just sells one thing is actually pretty darn easy.”
Casper’s astonishing success was helped by the state of the traditional mattress industry at the time of its launch. Chapin has identified nine key areas where Big Mattress is slacking off:
- Terrible shopping experience.
- Complexity of choice.
- Knowledge mis-match between sales representative and shopper.
- Useless in-store trial.
- Buyer’s remorse.
- Low value for money.
- Transactional relationships.
- No brand relevance.
- Not in cultural dialogue.