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Bed in a Box: The Mattress Craze Sweeping the World

Bed in a Box: The Mattress Craze Sweeping the World

James Quinn
bed in box deliver illustration homerefinery

Mattresses have an inordinate amount of influence over our lives. We spend roughly one-third of our entire lives on mattresses—yet so few feel they have the best mattress possible. Many suffer from lower back pain, chronic fatigue, and generalized mattress dissatisfaction yet are unable to address the issue because of expensive prices. New mattress brands have been sweeping the nation in recent years with a new business model dubbed Bed in a box which offers high-quality products, direct to consumers, and does so for nearly half the price of local retailers.

What’s a Bed-in-a-Box?

The Bed in a Box business model produces a quality mattress that’s sold manufacturer-direct in such a way that deeply undercuts traditional pricing models. For example; the Tomorrow Sleep hybrid memory foam mattress retails for around $1000. A comparable in-store mattress might easily run you $2000. That seems to be an absurdity—it’s not! Mattress brands like Tomorrow Sleep, Nectar Sleep, Casper, and Tuft & Needle have evolved a new way to offer quality mattresses to consumers. They make their own mattresses, sell them from their own websites, and ship them to their customers—for FREE—via standard ground carriers. This approach cuts out all middlemen, avoids outrageous retail markups, and still leaves enough margin for these brands to offer great seasonal sales and discounts. Everything seems straightforward except the free-shipping part, right? This aspect of newer mattress brands’ business model involved a lot of design consideration up-front and is behind the “bed in a box” moniker.

Home Refinery Mattresses
Bed-in-a-Box brands wrap their mattresses in vacuum-sealed packaging that fit easily into boxes small enough to ship via UPS or FedEx

A Mattress-Sized Box

At first thought, it seems crazy to be able to ship a mattress via standard ground carriers like UPS. After all, the weight and size limits for UPS dictate that packages can be no heavier than 150 pounds, no longer than 108 inches, and must have a width + length value of fewer than 165 inches. Packages larger than this typically require freight shipping or custom delivery options—neither of which are cheap! Technically, a 10” x 76” x 80” (king size) would equate to a 90 x 76 size that would fall within the UPS size limitations.

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Mattress brands quickly recognized the ability to roll mattresses up length-wise and make use of vacuum-sealing technology

In practice, however, this package size would be a huge inconvenience for both shipping company and receiver. Moving a mattress by yourself is hard enough—try moving one in a cardboard box without handles! Mattress brands quickly recognized the ability to roll mattresses up length-wise and make use of vacuum-sealing technology. This practice allowed most memory-foam, or largely foam, mattresses to be consolidated to boxes that are roughly 20” x 20” x 42” though some tend to be a tad longer depending on how they are packaged. Nonetheless, this offers both carriers and buyers a convenient size to easily get to houses, into houses and positioned near a bed to open.

The Myth of Free Shipping

In the realm of eCommerce shipping charges can be the quickest turn off to buyers. Even a $3.99 shipping charge can be enough to cause shoppers to abandon their carts. Amazon’s Prime program has been a clear success story of how deeply free shipping can impact a buyer’s willingness to purchase.

As noted by the 2017 Walker and Sand’s Future of Retail Report, 80 of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a retailer if they offer free shipping. Two other notable surges in preference are the same-day and one-day shipping options—both arguably made popular by Amazon’s Prime program.

The thing about free shipping is that it isn’t free at all. UPS, FedEx, or the USPS don’t ever show up at a merchant’s warehouse and say “you know what, shipping is on the house today!” Someone must pay for shipping and it’s usually the customer. For smaller retail items in the $15-$25 range free shipping is a rarity. Even Amazon has trouble with this in many cases—illustrated by their incentives towards add-on programs. Nonetheless, buyers have come to expect free shipping on any products regardless of size, distance, or cost.

Mattress brands are arguably the most successfully-marketed businesses in the past few years and are no strangers to consumer behavior. Fortunately for these companies; mattresses have such high prices compared to common retail items that hiding a shipping fee into the cost is no difficult task. Allowing themselves to ship via standard ground carriers keeps that price to a minimum which allows them to even further undercut the brick and mortar stores. You can celebrate not having to pay for shipping during checkout—but just realize that you’re paying for it in the overall price.

Mattress Brand Reviews Home Refinery
Knowing Which Brands to Shop For Can Help Tremendously

Notable Brands

The original Bed-in-a-Box brand was Casper—even if they weren’t the first. Casper mattresses were the first such brand to really wow the consumer and have quickly turned their successes into a 200 million/year business. They may have been the first to hit pay dirt in this still-evolving landscape but where there’s success there is competition—and oh, how there have been many more brands popping up. In fact, we seem to notice another new mattress brand popping up every week it seems like! We’ve got a great article on how to find the best mattress out there for yourself but we’d like to take a moment here to talk about some of the best bed-in-a-box options specifically. Below you’ll find a lineup of some of the best brands out there.


Casper Memory Foam Mattress Layers Cutaway
Casper’s memory foam is designed with four distinct layers to add total support and comfort control

For those familiar with the mattress industry—or anyone with eyes enough to absorb banner ads and billboards—the Casper mattress is no stranger. The original Casper mattress is a 4-layer memory foam design that has been engineered to help you sleep soundly both because of comfort and the lack of impact on your bank account. These mattresses come in around $995 for a Queen size, though their newer Wave models will set you back almost $2000.

Favorite Mattress: The “Casper”

Nectar Sleep

Nectar Sleep memory Foam Mattress Layers Diagram Home Refinery
Nectar’s memory foam mattress is made of five distinct layers all of which serve a valuable purpose

Nectar is a rising star in the Bed-In-A-Box world no because of their unprecedented quality but because of their unique price positioning. Their Queen size memory foam mattress, backed by a forever warranty, can be had for a little under $700. That’s less than the $1000 price point many comparable mattresses offer, but still much higher than the super-economic models falling in the $300 and under range. Their mattress might not win any awards for being the best on the market—but it gets a lot of votes for being the best-priced mattress.

Favorite Mattress: Nectar Sleep Memory Foam

Tomorrow Sleep


Tomorrow Sleep Mattress diagram home refinery
The hybrid design of the Tomorrow Sleep mattress provides the benefits of both memory foam and microcoil designs

Tomorrow Sleep is a new player in the field and has yet to prove themselves completely to consumers. They are backed by industry Titan Serta-Simmons and can make use of all the manufacturing, marketing, and logistics that entails. Their new Hybrid Memory Foam mattress can be had for under $900 and has more bells and whistles than most in that range. For example, this mattress uses both memory foam and individually-wrapped micro coils to provide both contouring and weight distribution support. This is a mattress that’s been engineered by those with experience and is being sold for prices cheaper than comparable bed-in-a-box designs.

Favorite Mattress: Hybrid Memory Foam


Final Thoughts

Having a quality mattress can have a seriously positive impact on your overall life experience. Drifting off to dreamland should be an experience that we celebrate, not just something we happen to do each night. For kids, mattresses can be a land of imagination where their parents read them bedtime stories and smother them with love. For parents, a mattress can be a much-needed refuge from the barrage of daily life and screaming kids. You shouldn’t have to fight to get comfortable at night and you should expect to wake up feeling refreshed. A mattress isn’t the only consideration to be made for this pursuit but it can have a tremendous impact. The emergence of the bed-in-a-box mattress brands have allowed average consumers to have access to truly quality mattresses for prices formerly slotted only for average, uncomfortable, and abhorrently-overpriced models. There are new mattress brands popping up every day but the ones listed here are certainly among the best.