Serta Launches Direct-to-Consumer E-Commerce Platform
Direct-to-consumer web marketplaces have made it increasingly difficult for even the strongest retail brands to maintain the margins required of a three-tier distribution model. Forced to compete with tighter pricing structures, many traditional wholesalers are making a dramatic shift to selling directly to their customers online. The U.S. mattress market is no exception.
In the last few years, wholesalers and new market entrants have crowded the direct-to-consumer space, making it a highly competitive market. Undeterred, Serta Simmons Bedding, North America’s largest traditional mattress manufacturer, saw this as an opportunity given its nearly 150 years of expertise in bedding manufacturing.
Having maintained a successful wholesale business model since the company was founded in 1870, the company spun off an innovation business, Tomorrow Sleep, to make a quick entry. Forte Group helped them do just that.
To enter the direct-to-consumer market, Serta became the driving force behind Tomorrow Sleep. However, the platform had several challenges. Serta’s original software delivery partner wasn’t producing results: After months of discussion and little progress, the beta version of Tomorrow Sleep was mired with quality assurance (QA) problems.
The platform needed to be stabilized and launched to market in less than six months. To achieve QA and e-commerce expertise, Serta needed an experienced and reliable partner who could take over pre-launch QA services and ensure a seamless customer experience. This brought Serta to Forte Group.
The Forte team began working on getting the development of Tomorrow Sleep back on track with QA, direct placement, and staff augmentation services. The primary focus of Forte’s work was QA.
First, QA and testing checkpoints were built into the delivery system. In building QA into the development cycle, Forte created a manual and automated testing structure.
As part of its manual testing, Forte tested every system function against the system’s requirements to make sure it performed correctly. This required testing assorted data sets as well as usability testing.
Forte built an automated performance testing platform, which was essential in stabilizing the system. With each change in code, the automated platform would trigger 30 minutes of tests, which provided useful feedback that improved subsequent stages of development. Cross-browser tests also ensured that the e-commerce system worked flawlessly across all platforms.
With a system of quality assurance in place, the Tomorrow Sleep e-commerce platform began to stabilize. Pleased with the results, Serta Simmons commissioned Forte to provide QA leadership, help build an in-house team, and take over the development of the e-commerce system.
Forte Group definitely was one of the factors for Serta being able to attract leading brands. With Forte’s help, we were able to make Serta an effective competitor in the direct-to-consumer mattress space.
Tomorrow Sleep successfully launched in 2017 and grew from $0 to $30 million in less than a year with the full backing of Serta’s long history of mattress manufacturing behind it. Built on a foundation of quality assurance, Tomorrow Sleep transitioned to an improved third-party logistics provider within three weeks. The launch also made Serta a viable contender in the direct-to-consumer market. In just under a year, Serta acquired mattress upstart Tuft & Needle, further advancing the company’s direct-to-consumer business.
Through technology, a storied American brand was able to shift its business focus to align with the current of its customers’ expectations. Serta Simmons, now the world’s leading mattress producer, has positioned itself as a brand with a future as rich as its history.