Over the past 10 years, the rise of direct-to-consumer online mattress brands has cut the number of brick-and-mortar door swings by a significant amount — which continues to be a problem even today.
To address that, MattressAI is offering consumer-focused technology to enhance the offerings of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers with specialized AI assistants.
Officially launched just under a month ago, the technology — created by founder/CEO Blake Austin and technical founder/head of content strategy Michael Houghton — is an AI assistant that asks customers questions about their sleep preferences. This includes questions like, do you sleep with a partner? and what type of comfort are you looking for?, that RSAs would typically ask in a store.
Consumers can do this online before heading to a store, or in the store, the RSA can provide a QR code or send an SMS directly to the customer allowing them to take the survey.
“We aim to merge the in-store expertise of the RSA while also providing a digital convenience of doing everything from the comfort of their home that people want,” Austin says.
Austin previously worked for Snap Finance and Kafene, which connected him with dozens of furniture and mattress retailers, and Houghton brings to the table the technical experience needed to develop AI.
Houghton’s been working in engineering for six years and over the past year has been sharing his developments online on Twitter. That caught Austin’s attention and they put their minds together to figure out how to use the technology for the mattress industry.
For retailers, the setup process is simple. When they sign up with MattressAI, they fill out their settings, explain their company values, and name the AI assistant. The company is also offering a 15-day free trial.
After inputting which bedding brands they carry and how they want to get the message to the customer, MattressAI does the rest.
“When they send that message out to their customer and the customer engages with the AI, at the end of that AI conversation we summarize it and text it back to the retailer so that they can follow up with the customer and close out the sale,” Austin says.
In addition to it being a consumer-facing assistant, Houghton points out that while some busy retailers may forget a person’s name, misplace their number or not get their information at all, MattressAI takes notes of every interaction and sends it to the retailer for their records.
“When you generate a QR code you can label it in the dashboard and it’ll be dated,” he explains. “You can create a specific label for each QR code and then track all of the leads that come from that QR code. We want this to be a way for people to understand exactly how things are performing and for store owners to understand how exactly their marketing is working.”
While the product only officially went live a few weeks ago, the company had been testing it behind the scenes with various retailers. That gave it time to work out any kinks and also make some improvements based on feedback from their testers.
“The biggest change during the alpha was that retailers were saying that the chat asked too many questions,” says Houghton. “So what we did was now is, that’s something fully customizable in the settings. There’s a list of data and you can check whether you want the AI to collect that data or not.”
The substance of the questions was also something that needed to be worked out, and the company ended up splitting the MattressAI system in half to offer two different types of assistants.
One is specially for generating leads and doesn’t ask many questions. Its sole purpose is to ask a few questions and then get their contact information to the store owner. The other aims to replicate a sales representative’s role in that, with a total of 12 questions that can be asked.
“The alpha testing allowed us to understand exactly what users were looking to do with the tool, specifically, and what features they were looking for,” Austin adds. “We were able to rapidly add some of those features or pull those features to the front of our roadmap.”
Thankfully, Austin says, many in the mattress industry have warmed up to the idea of AI and are more comfortable using it to be more efficient in their sales and marketing processes.
“The fear has been a lot less than I anticipated and we’re excited to begin working on new features and improvements to make MattressAI even better,” Austin says.
For more information about MattressAI, visit themattressai.com