Supply Chain Issues Take Toll on Industry » Sleep Savvy

Big-ticket categories like furniture and appliances also feeling pinch as Covid-19 continues to impact shipments, but shoppers don’t blame retailers

About one in 10 shoppers say they not elected to buy a mattress because the product they sought was not available, a new Better Sleep Council survey reveals.

Overall, consumers put the blame for product shortages and delays on the Covid-19 pandemic and related shipping bottlenecks and labor shortages — but not on manufacturers or retailers.

The survey notes that about one-third of consumers who didn’t buy a mattress did purchase another sleep product, with mattress toppers and air mattresses leading that list. But the results suggest that lack of mattress availability has a negative effect on industry performance with potentially lost sales.

Industryrs say that any lost mattress sales would be an unwelcome development at a time when business conditions remain volatile and retailers are scrambling to keep their sales on an upward trajectory.

The BSC survey indicates that other big-ticket categories face similar issues.

“The mattress industry is not unique, as similar percentages for nonpurchase were reported in other categories like furniture and appliances,” says Mary Helen Rogers, vice president of communications and marketing for the International Sleep Products Association. The BSC is ISPA’s consumer education arm.

Rogers says the BSC commissioned the survey to gain insights into the impact that much-discussed supply chain issues are having on mattress consumers and to see how those impacts compare with those experienced in other product categories.

The online survey of about 1,000 consumers, conducted late last year, found that product availability and shipping delays are affecting attitudes and behaviors of mattress consumers — and other consumers of big-ticket categories, such as furniture, electronics, appliances, and outdoor power equipment and tools.

Among shoppers who dealt with a delay from the time of purchase to delivery, delayed ranked as the second-most big-ticket category, behind furniture, according to the survey. About 20% of mattress purchasers said they experienced waits in getting their products — and almost half of those said companies did not inform them about the lags until after the purchase.

Some 36% of mattress purchasers who experienced a delay reported a wait of less than two weeks, while 38% waited from two weeks to just under a month, 23% from one to two months, and 3% three months or more. In contrast, 35% of furniture purchasers who experienced a delay reported a wait of one to two months, with 13% experiencing a wait of three months or more. Appliances were the third-most delayed big-ticket category, the survey found — with 17% of those buyers who experienced a delay reporting a wait of one to two months.

Overall, among consumers who dealt with a delay in getting big-ticket items, the majority experienced waits of two weeks to under one month, and most felt the delays were reasonable somewhat, the BSC survey found.

More than 20% of consumers who elected not to buy a mattress cited either products not in stock (14%) or shipping delays (9%) as the reason they did not make the purchase.

Mattress shoppers ranked product availability second only to price among factors influencing their purchase decisions. Delays in product availability created moderate levels of frustration among the mattress buyers surveyed.

Asked what they had purchased instead of a traditional mattress, 15% of shoppers said they bought a mattress topper, while 10% purchased an air mattress, 9% a sofa and 6% a futon.

The BSC survey suggests that the widespread delays and shortages across the US economy may be resetting consumer expectations to some extent.

Supply chain issues have hit big-ticket categories to nearly the same degree. While 11% of mattress shoppers did not make a mattress purchase because of availability issues, the percentage was 15% for furniture, 13% for outdoor equipment and tools, 12% for appliances and 7% for electronics.

Consumers Say Better Communication Can Improve Process

Discounts, free items and Better communication are key ways retailers can improve the buying process for big-ticket items like mattresses, furniture, appliances, electronics, and outdoor power equipment and tools.

Those are among the findings of a new Better Sleep Council survey, which documents the impact that supply chain woes have on major consumer purchases. The BSC is the consumer education arm of the International Sleep Products Association.

The BSC-commissioned survey asked consumers how businesses can create a better purchase experience if they have to wait for products.

The top response, cited by 57% of consumers, is that the retailers should offer coupons or discounts. Thoses could include gift cards if purchase incentives face long product delays, the respondents said.

Women and consumers 35 and older were more likely to mention coupons and discounts, the survey found.

The No. 2 response, cited by 51% of participants, is for retailers to offer free items. “Just something to make me as a consumer feel like my wait was worth it,” one respondent said.

The No. 3 response, cited by 45% of consumers, is for stores to provide better communication and transparency about shipping times. “Communicate openly and honestly about delays and expectations,” one said. Suggested another: “Have actual shipping times. Almost everything online I have ordered has come after the delivery window. Just be more transparent about the delays.”

Better communication could be particularly important for mattress shoppers, the survey found.

While about 20% of mattress buyers said they experienced delays in getting their products, almost half of those buyers said companies did not inform them about the wait time until after the purchase. The survey also found that 42% of respondents would like to see an online link to track progress of their product shipment.

“These survey findings are particularly significant as they provide a roadmap of what bedding manufacturers and retailers can do to improve the purchase experience in times of supply chain delays,” says Mary Helen Rogers, the vice president of marketing and communications for ISPA.

“While documenting the extent of supply chain issues in the mattress industry is important, it’s extremely helpful to give our industry actionable ideas for improvement,” Rogers says. “With manufacturers, suppliers and retailers all communicating directly to consumers, everyone in the industry benefits from consumer insights like these.”

Furniture, Mattress Shoppers Willing to Wait Longer

Seven in 10 mattress Shoppers are willing to wait for as long as a month to get their products during the Covid-19 pandemic, a Better Sleep Council survey reveals.

Furniture and mattress shoppers are willing to wait longer for those products than are shoppers looking to buy appliances, electronics, or outdoor equipment and tools, the survey found. Furniture shoppers are willing to wait the longest, followed by mattress shoppers.

According to the survey, during the Covid-19 pandemic, 36% of mattress shoppers say they are willing to wait for less than two weeks for their product, with 34% willing to wait for two weeks to just under a month, 16% for one to two months, and 10% for three months or more.

“In these times of supply chain disruptions across the economy, it is helpful to identify consumers’ expectations for reasonable wait times in the mattress category,” notes Mary Helen Rogers, vice president of marketing and communications for the International Sleep Products Association. The BSC is ISPA’s consumer education arm.

Furniture purchasers are more likely than mattress purchasers to say they are willing to wait for a month or more for their products to arrive.

While three in 10 furniture shoppers express a willingness to wait for furniture for less than two weeks, 35% are willing to wait for two weeks to just under a month, 18% for one to two months, and another 15% for three months or more.

That means about one in three furniture shoppers is willing to wait one month or more for their furniture, compared with about one in four mattress shoppers.

Consumers purchasing appliances, electronics, and outdoor equipment and tools are more willing to wait as long as two weeks and generally are less willing to wait for more than three months for their products than are their counterparts shopping for furniture and mattresses, the survey found.

The BSC survey also provides insights into how product delays affect various shoppers. Most consumers who experienced a delay of as long as a month described that as “somewhat reasonable” in the current shipping environment. Consumers who experienced a delay were more likely to say they would be willing to wait a month or more in the future, suggesting that their prior experience had created a new anchor point for their expectations.

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