Less than 10 years ago, boxed beds were a new innovation that not many people thought would take off. But now, with the ease of shipping and a younger generation buying exclusively online, boxed beds have become more popular than ever.
In fact, Bed In A Box — in multiple forms — is a registered trademark owned by NCFI Polyurethanes, which claims to be the first producer of boxed beds.
Although some in the mattress industry may associate boxed beds with cheaper beds, I spoke with a few industry leaders to learn more about how the industry views boxed beds, what the industry does right and wrong, and more.
Patrick Wolf, vice president of sales and education at Diamond Mattress, says that the industry has turned the corner and is now more accepting of boxed beds.
“At Diamond, we have been on a 10-year mission to educate on the idea that the box is simply a packaging method,” he explains. “At a conference in 2016, leaders from top bedding manufacturers claimed boxed beds were ‘a fad’ only for the ‘low end’ and were ‘not for consumers who value good sleep.’ Diamond took advantage of this mindset and built a strong boxed segment while others resisted. Now, everyone seems to be on board.”
However, there may be two different sides of the conversation, according to Alan Hirschhorn, executive vice president at GhostBed.
“One is compressing a bed for the sake of transportation — because it’s smaller and you can move more pieces more efficiently,” he says. “Now, what people don’t know is Tempur-Pedic is compressing mattresses. They’re not boxing them, but they’re compressing them flat so they’re thin when loaded onto pallets and trucks.”
He adds that right now he thinks there’s a tremendous evolution in the fact that premium beds come rolled in a box, and “there’s absolutely no difference between it becoming rolled in a box or coming flat pack to your door. The only difference is the efficiency and the cost of getting it there.”
Wolf also says that many manufacturers and retailers still tend to direct their boxed mattresses toward lower price points.
“They are hesitant to show boxed beds over the $2,000 price point,” he explains. “If we can get past this mindset, it would open a world of smaller storage and warehouse space, customers taking it with them, and shipping directly from the factory to the consumer’s home.”
Over time, Hirschhorn predicts we will continue to see a difference in the perception of boxed beds being “cheap” and boxed beds being a more efficient way to transport product.
In fact, Wolf says boxed beds can actually cost more to make if it’s done right and stands up to noncompressed mattresses on the retail floor.
“Using high-density foams which rebound from compression is the most important factor,” he says. “We also use specially constructed wrapped spring units, fabrics that stretch more and wrinkle less, quality woven labels, and even the type and amount of glue. Then of course there is the box and additional plastic.”
Russ Mayner, owner of Mayner Hempapedic, seconds that, explaining that the components used in a roll-pack mattress — whether it be the coils or the foam — are much higher than that of a non-roll pack because it has to undertake the beating it undergoes when it gets compressed.
“If a person is buying a decent American-made boxed bed, you’re getting a good product,” he says. “Dealers do have to dig into each manufacturer and see if they are ISO-registered and what materials they use.”
The significance of a born-on label
Born-on dates have been a topic of conversation in the industry over the past few years, and Wolf says that these mattresses are under tremendous pressure when compressed and do indeed have a shelf life.
“We test our mattresses out to six months in the box,” he says. “We recommend they remain in the box no longer than 120 days to be safe. Nearly all consumers will open the mattress shortly after the time of delivery, so the education is more focused on the retailers. We have worked with our sales team to relay the information to the retailers, while at the same time listing the 120-day shelf life in our warranty.”
Hirschhorn explains that GhostBed’s born-on dates are different than others in the industry.
“When you’re using high-density and high-quality foams, your bed can stay compressed much longer than when you’re using less expensive foam,” he says. “So when you’re using the light density foams, the 1.6’s the 1.5’s, those are not going to stay compressed long — you’ve got three to four months in which you want to get them out of the box and open. When you’re using high-density foams like we are, 1.8- or 2-pound foams, those could stay compressed for a year. We don’t recommend customers do that, but if they don’t open it immediately it will not affect the quality of the foam.”
In the end, it all comes down to quality, and Hirschhorn says that people will only have an issue if their foam is not going to last. Most people that buy a bed decompress it within three months.
But what about the percentage of consumers that send boxed beds back? Mayner says the number is 33%, and to aid with that his company offers a 10-year guarantee on its beds.
“If it dips below an inch and the end user has to put a meter stick on top of the bed to measure the dip, we’ll replace the bed immediately,” he says. “A lot of manufacturers make it 2 and a half or 2 inches, but ours is just 1 inch. Our return rate is below a third of a percent. That means for every 300 beds that we send out, maybe one will have a problem. And in most cases, it’s not a warranty problem, it was a manufacturing problem to begin with.”
Overall, the view on boxed beds has changed significantly. With top e-commerce brands pouring dollars into advertising the boxed segment, it is becoming more acceptable and consumers now expect to have boxed options online and in-store.