Buying a mattress or a bed online in Singapore offers plenty of advantages. You can visit many mattress shops in just a few clicks of a mouse! And you can do your looking whenever it suits you; this may be 11pm at night, for example. Price comparisons can be done in the relaxing comfort of your own home, without the exhaustion of navigating streets and shops in person.
Yet there are several things which the savvy shopper needs to look out for when buying mattresses or beds online. Not all online stores are reputable. A mattress is a big purchase - this guide will help ensure you shop wisely.
10 Things to Look for When Shopping Online for a Mattress or a Bed:
1. Ability to view the products and prices online.
You wouldn't buy in person from a store which won't let you see the products or prices, so why do it online?
By "view the products" we're not talking about just one photo per product. When shopping online, you'll need to be able to visualize the features of each product clearly, or to be able to view it from different angles (e.g. further away and close up). This requires two or sometimes three or more photos. Don't stick with a shop which only offers one photo per product: no matter how good their prices, it tells you they're not thinking of the customer. When shopping online, always go with a store which gives you a customer-centric experience.
2. Ability to view the description, specifications and features.
The reason you're shopping online is convenience. So you want to be able to compare one product with another product, and the only way you can do that is to make sure you can examine the description, specifications and features.
The description is a brief summary of the product. For example, in the case of a mattress, the description should give you a good overall 'feel' for its important points.
The specification refers to the physical properties, for example its dimensions, materials, firmness options and so on. Even though you may not find the specification particularly exciting at first glance, it is actually very important when shopping online. This is because if you're doing price comparisons, you'll want to ensure you're "comparing apples with apples". If one bed or mattress is cheaper than another, and you're interested in both, check the specifications to see if they are indeed the same. The higher priced one may offer you more for your money in terms of the quality of the product, but then again it may not - and this is something you can only find out by reading the specifications.
The features of each product should also be mentioned somewhere with the product, such as whether the mattress has a removable cover, or offers natural mould resistance, or a turnable mattress and so on. Which features you need are up to you; the important thing is to ensure that the online bedding shop has the information displayed clearly. This can be shown in a short bullet-point style, or using a pictorial feature key, for example. It doesn't really matter how the features are shown, but it does matter that they exist.
3. Certification information on products which have passed stringent tests or international standards.
Certification is a very stringent process which requires the mattress or bed to pass certain tests or be manufactured in a particular way, for example. Certification is not something which is awarded easily and certification boards are very strict about this. Besides helping the consumer, the high stringency is important because certification boards want to be able to stand behind their certification stamp. They want to ensure that in all cases it is an indicator of high quality.
As a result, if you're shopping for a mattress or a bed online, you'll want to shop somewhere which offers certification information for their products. There may be more than one certification (in some cases several certifications) which the product has been awarded. Having this information available online is an indicator not only of high quality, but also of accountability. It tells you the shop is knowledgeable about their products and that that they invite scrutiny of the products by certifying boards.
This helps you immensely, not only in terms of understanding the quality but also in having confidence in that bedding shop.
4. Presence of customer education information such as articles and videos explaining features.
There have likely been new technologies developed and new options since the last time you bought a mattress. So it helps you immensely if the online shop offers explanatory material for you to understand the different features available.
Such educational information can come in video form, article form, animated pictures, blog posts, and so on, depending on the particular information being conveyed. Obviously, if you want to visualise how something actually works (e.g. an adjustable sprung slatted bed base), then a video would be of most help to you. However, for information on certifications for example, an article would be more useful. It really doesn't matter what forms of explanatory material the online shop uses, so long as it is appropriately conveyed.
Beware of an online mattress shop which does not supply any of this educational information: this tells you they care more about selling a mattress - any mattress - than making sure you get the right mattress for you. Instead, a high quality reputable bedding shop will have plenty of information for you using more than one medium. This tells you they care about you as a customer.
5. A telephone number where you can speak with a real person is a must.
You'll want to shop only from somewhere which offers assistance from a real person if you need it. If a bedding shop doesn't have a phone number listed on the website, be wary of doing business with them. Even if you don't think you'll actually need to speak with someone on the phone in person, the option to do so is a hallmark of a legitimate bedding shop.
6. Good online contact options.
If you're shopping online at 11pm at night for example, you may prefer to get assistance online. A good online bedding shop should offer an email address to contact, and/or a customer service form to fill out online, and/or online chat (even though it may be offline at the time). If fortuitously the store offers all three of these options, then you know you're in good hands.
7. The online company should have a showroom available if you decide to test it before purchasing.
You'll want to test out the mattress or bed yourself of course, if you ever want to test it before making that final purchasing decision. A reliable online mattress shop will have a showroom option available where you go in person to can see and try out the products you want.
This allows you the very best of both worlds: spending time comfortably online to narrow down to the few options you really want, yet still able to see and test out those particular products in person if you ever require it.
This is actually where many online mattress shops fall down: they don't have a showroom. When you shop somewhere which offers you a showroom, you know they care about the customer.
8. An in-home trial that allows you to change the firmness level.
Even showroom testing doesn't fully tell you exactly how the bed will feel when sleeping on it during the night. So the ability to have an in-home trial is a must. Not all in-home trials are equivalent: terms and conditions differ from one shop to another. You should look for a 30-day trial that allows you to change the firmness level. This is because it could take you some time to decide if you're happy with the level of firmness. And you'll want a company that lets you change it out for free for a firmer or softer mattress if you're not happy.
Also check whether delivery to or from the store is included if your mattress has to be changed out. A reliable high quality mattress shop should cover at least one of those transportation costs. Another option is a store which subsidizes those costs (i.e. reduces them to a nominal amount). Lesser stores will not cover transportation at all in either direction and may even require you to bring the mattress yourself, and will often not even mention this fact to you, resulting in a nasty surprise if you want to change your mattress during the in-home trial.
9. Terms and conditions spelt out clearly for warranties or trials.
As you saw just above, it's really important to know the fine print - and to know that this extends beyond just the transportation charges. Whether it's for a warranty or an in-home trial, you'll need to have it spelt out exactly what is the shop's responsibility and what is your responsibility. These terms and conditions should be explained clearly on the website of a reputable bedding shop. If not, make sure you get that information to you in writing (e.g. through customer service). You need to know this information up-front, before committing to any purchase.
Some questions to which you need answers are things like "What things would void the warranty when buying a new mattress from you?" and "If I do the in-home trial and change out the mattress firmness, what happens next if I'm still not comfortable?" As mentioned before, check on transportation costs too. A legitimate bedding shop will be able to answer those questions because they are true policies that they have put in place. In contrast, a bad mattress store will not be able to answer these questions easily because they don't care about the warranty or a possible return - they just want to make a sale.
10. Secured payment.
You don't want to expose yourself to identity theft. So ensure that the online bedding store processes payment using https (a secure encrypted method).
Aside from accepting major credit cards, you should also check to see that the shop also accepts a trusted third-party gateway for payment, such as PayPal. You may be asking why this is important if you don't plan to use PayPal yourself. The answer is that in PayPal, the store never sees your credit card details. Thus, a shop that accepts PayPal is a good indicator that the payment process is legitimate and secure (regardless of which method you yourself plan to pay).
You've found a reputable online seller - now what?
If you have found a reliable online mattress shop which fits all the criteria outlined above, then it's time for you to have fun! Yes, shopping for your mattress, bedding or bed base can (and should) be a very positive experience for you. Enjoy looking at products and pricing in the comfort of your own home. Enjoy taking the time to think without a pushy salesperson around you. And most of all enjoy knowing that you'll get to relax in the soft tranquil comfort of your new mattress or bed.