Rocket science and mattresses, on the face of it, don’t have much in common. But when premier US space agency NASA invented memory foam in the 1970s, it was almost akin to discovering a new world, and revolutionised the way people looked at mattresses.
Almost half a century later, the mattress and sleep industry seemed to have gone into a deep slumber as far as innovations like that were concerned.
Meanwhile, the market did see the introduction of a variety of mattresses, meant for different body types and purposes, and each had its own sets of pros and cons. This problem of plenty only helped confuse customers further. How could they decide which was the best option for them and which would deliver on its promise of restful sleep? Another issue was that customers were forced to compromise on either quality or on price, since the affordable mattresses did not offer much by way of quality sleep and wellness, and those that did, were exorbitantly priced.
The industry had many gaps throughout the lifecycle:
- Pre-purchase research was broken as there was no transparency in product structure, quality of raw materials or in the suitability of a product to one’s specific needs. Further, there was no authoritative and objective source online or offline which could share this knowledge in an easily understandable manner.
- Purchase process was also broken because the salesmen at the traditional stores were not trained on the science of sleep and had no particular interest in the customer, other than to push a product that provides them the best commissions. This also meant that customers routinely overpaid because nearly 40% of the pricing would be nothing but dealer commissions
- Post-purchase experience was fraught with anxiety because one would not know whether the purchased product would suit their body or not, given that there is no trial period or return policy.
It was to address these gaps, put the focus back on the customers, and ensure that they no longer had to compromise, either on the price or the quality of mattresses, that Ankit Garg and Chaitanya Ramalingegowda set up Wakefit.co in 2016. YourStory sits down with the founder duo for a deep dive into India’s sleep problems and solutions.
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