A Guide to Buying a Mattress Online

By Mario Esposito
Last Updated: August 15, 2018

Need a new mattress but don’t have the spare time and energy to visit showroom after showroom? Not looking forward to being overwhelmed by the variety of options, testing mattresses, hearing vaguely similar sales spiels, and haggling for a price that you can actually afford? If this sounds familiar, you may want to consider buying a mattress online.

Computer monitor displaying an ecommerce website

Surprised? Don’t be. Online shopping is generally accepted as a modern convenience and part of everyday life, but why is it that mattress shopping is normally thought of as an exception? Two reasons: tradition and cost. Different authorities on the matter—from medical experts to mothers—will tell you that it’s always best to actually lie down on a mattress yourself to assess it personally. The one thing that you should never do is to buy a mattress without ever having done this, because it’s a big ticket purchase and you don’t want to waste your money.

What you and the authorities you listen to may not have realized is that the mattress industry has adapted to the times. Big retailers and small online startups alike have made it easier than ever to buy a mattress online, as you’ll find out below.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Buying a mattress online is similar to making any major online purchase, with some special considerations. Here’s a quick how-to!

Set a Price Range and Stick to It

Evaluate your financial capabilities and determine a realistic budget for your needs. As sleep products can often be bought in sets, now would also be the time to check if anything else should be replaced. Is your bed base, boxspring, foundation or platform bed still stable? Are your pillows still supporting your neck and head properly? It may be worth considering buying at least the former along with the mattress, as they typically have similar usable lifetimes and warranty periods.

Wait for an Opportune Moment

Like brick-and-mortar stores, online shops also have holiday sales. If you can hold out for a bit, wait until Labor Day, the Fourth of July, Black Friday, or another holiday that’s just around the corner. If you can’t, many websites—yes, including Good Night’s Rest—routinely offer promo codes and discount links that you can find alongside various articles and mattress reviews. You always want to get the best value for your money, and this step helps you do just that.

Browse, Research and Focus on Products You Can Return

While you’re waiting, exercise those Googling muscles and do your research. For each mattress that’s on your list of choices, read up on the composition and construction of it; as well as the reputations of the product itself, its manufacturer, and especially its customer service. Consider your preferences and your price range, too. Make sure many—if not all—your top choices have a return policy or free trial period. This, more than anything else, is what makes buying a mattress online worth it, as it effectively cancels out not being able to test the product before purchase. Many online mattress companies offer options for full refunds and trial periods lasting months. We actually wrote a separate article about this step; for a more in depth take, click here.

A woman sleeping in bed, completely covered by a blanket

Choose the Option That’s Right for You

You’ve checked product websites, mattress reviews and consumer reports. You’ve narrowed down your choices. By this time, you probably have a few strong contenders. It’s time to actually make the purchase! Enter your billing information, and make the necessary decisions—size, firmness, add-ons—and then just sit back, relax, and wait for your brand new mattress to arrive.

Test Thoroughly, Then Keep or Return

When it arrives, set it up accordingly and use it regularly! A trial period exists so you can test a mattress properly, not just for one to five minutes at a showroom. Sleep on it for one night, one week, one month, or more—as long as it’s within the trial period. Monitor your sleep hours and overall sleep quality. Keep it if you want it, and return it—without guilt—if you don’t feel comfortable with it. That’s what the trial period is for. If the latter happens, go back to the first step.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Mattress Online

Still need convincing? We know that the last step—the thought of having to return such an unwieldy item, and also having to repeat the entire process—may put you off and possibly dissuade you from even the simple, harmless exercise of checking out your online mattress buying options. We’ve broken down the perks and perils of online mattress shopping below to give you some additional perspective on the matter.

Green, circular plus signThe Good

You can shop from home. Convenience at this level is unparalleled and hard to beat. Even just 20 years ago it would have been impossible for the average person to order and confirm the purchase of a new mattress using their smartphone, tablet or laptop, while wearing pajamas and sitting on their old mattress—in about the same time it takes for them to pour themselves a glass of wine.

You can avoid time-wasting and anxiety-inducing situations. While helpful, mattress salesmen in showrooms are far from neutral parties. While they should be able to answer questions about mattress specifications, salesmen are bound to steer people towards more expensive models and talk up unnecessary add-ons. In contrast, you’ll find that full product specs, package deals and even discounts that can be applied are plainly displayed in most online mattress stores. You can browse and research at your own pace, without feeling pressured to listen to sales pitches or rushed to make a final decision.

You often pay less. If a mattress is available both on a website and at a brick-and-mortar store, chances are that its online price tag is more affordable. Why? Simple: a direct-to-consumer or online retail approach means that there’s no price adjustment for things like middle men cuts, salesmen salaries, or showroom maintenance and rent. Additionally, shipping within the continental US is more often than not free.

Return policies are friendly and generous. There’s no way around it—returning a mattress you end up not liking will leave you back at square one. Thankfully, online mattress companies’ return policies very often make the process as painless as possible, unlike brick and mortar stores that often have return fees and more conditions.

Red, circular minus signThe Bad

Prices are non-negotiable. One of the great perks of actually going out and doing all the footwork is that you can haggle with the salesmen. While online prices are lower, you can’t bring them down further—which is why we recommend waiting for sales and using promo codes. They are the closest approximation to haggling that you can find when mattress shopping online.

Usually, you can’t try before you buy. Unless the manufacturer of the mattress you want to get has a local showroom—for example, Leesa has one in NYC and Endy has one in Toronto—often the only option is the opposite: buy before you try. Luckily, trials and return policies exist, so you will never get permanently stuck with a product you don’t like.

Usually, you get front-door delivery service only. This means that once they’ve delivered the mattress to your doorstep, everything else—moving it to your bedroom, unpacking, assembly—is up to you. There are standouts, though. For instance, Saatva doesn’t offer free shipping, but they do offer full-service delivery.

Finally: What to Do with Your Old Mattress

When you finally replace your old mattress—whether or not you chose to buy the new one online—a new problem arises. What do you do with that old mattress when the new one is delivered?

A large stack of old mattressesHold on to It in Case You Need It Later

A perk that comes with buying a new mattress straight from a showroom is that the delivery men usually take away your old mattress after setting up your new one. Most online mattress companies not only limit their delivery services to front-door, but also leave you to deal with disposing of your old mattress. This may seem like a one-sided situation at first, but it can be to your benefit, as well. After all, where will you sleep if you return that new mattress you bought online within the trial period? You can stick it in a spare bedroom or move it to storage instead of throwing it out the moment its replacement arrives.

You Can Also Just Let It Go

However, the fact remains that sometimes you really do need that old mattress out of the way. It might have broken down completely, or maybe you simply don’t have enough room to accommodate two mattresses. You have several options that you can look into before actually looking for a solution yourself. Some companies, like Saatva, will cart away your old mattress for an additional fee. Some don’t offer that option, but instead offer to arrange for the old mattress to be picked up for donation or recycling; Casper and Leesa do this.