The pandemic and the subsequent complete and then series of partial lockdowns has had a serious impact on the sleeping patterns of people and this has largely impacted the health of the most population.
In fact, according to a report by fitness solutions company Fitbit, Indians were the second-most sleep-deprived after Japan, getting an average night sleep of seven hours and so, India has emerged as the least active nation among 18 countries including the US, the UK, Japan, and Singapore.
The mattress one uses goes a long way in ensuring rest and relaxation and this has created a potential market for brands in the sleep solutions segment. While there already have been established brands offering sleep solutions range for years now, like Kurlon, Sleepwell, and Springwell, the recent times have pushed a number of start-ups in the category which are introducing mattresses with an innovative twist, with a potential to disrupt the space, ultimately. One such brand excelling this and offering luxury mattresses, at a fraction of the usual cost, delivered straight from the factory to the customers’ doorsteps for free, in a convenient box, is SleepyCat.
The Mumbai-based D2C sleep solutions brand was launched by Kabir Siddiq in 2017 and offers orthopedic mattresses that have removable covers to maintain hygiene and also mattresses with cooling crystals inserted into the memory foam to help regulate body temperature.
Kabir Siddiq, Founder & CEO, SleepyCat, maintains, “The mattress industry in India, just like any other industry, has undergone a profound transformation in recent years. With more and more innovative solutions coming up in each sector, the mattress industry too was not one to stay behind. We have seen a phenomenal transformation in recent years. Currently, it stands at Rs 10,000 crore but is projected to grow to Rs 14,000 crore by 2021. The online mattress market, however, is estimated to reach Rs 290 crore by next year. Furthermore, there is a new wave of D2C brands that are providing a better way for people to shop and consume products.”
What’s Ballooning the Segment?
A study says that 93 percent of the Indians are sleep deprived and get less than eight hours of sleep and this has only increased during the pandemic. However, people have become more aware of its benefits and moreover about the benefits of getting better sleep. The overall sleep solutions market has grown at a CAGR of more than 11 percent over the last five years.
Factors like rising income levels, growing health consciousness, and growth in the real estate and hospitality sectors, among others, accelerated this segment, and it's definitely not surprising that start-ups offering innovative and technology-heavy sleep solutions have come to the fore and have created its own niche place.
A visible shift has also been observed in customers’ perspectives where the focus is now on the comfort and functionality aspect of the product.
“We see that there is a demand even during the pandemic. And since we have the resources we will make sure we supply to the best of our capability. We’ve instructed everyone to maintain utmost hygiene at each level – right from manufacturing to shipping to delivery. We have actually seen growth in the months since the lockdown got lifted. There has been a renewed consumer focus on their homes and wellbeing,” says Kabir Siddiq.
Technology and D2C Push
Currently, a number of D2C brands have brought meaningful innovations in the sleep and home solutions space and are in the process, also building customer relationships across multiple channels. Be it integrated customer relationship management (CRM) system, use of technology in making their operations and logistics seamless, or offering technologically advanced products, the focus of these start-ups remains to enhance the lives of customers at every touchpoint during the purchase and post-purchase stage.
Brands are introducing mattresses with properties like breathability, no odor, zero sagging, long-lasting and temperature controlling, etc. SleepyCat offers Gel Memory Mattresses (6 inches and 8 inches, 7-inch Latex Mattress); Pillows (Memory Foam, Cuddle), Cloud (Microfiber Pillow); all-season comforters; Bed Base (Metal Base & DIY Ohayo Bed), Weighted Blankets, Pet Beds (regular and orthopedic).
Kabir Siddiq asserts, “From introducing India to the concepts of 'mattress-in-a-box', we have grown into a complete sleep solutions brand where we not only provide mattresses but also other bedding essentials that add luxury to your sleep routine. Box mattresses use advanced technology to easily roll-pack the mattress into a box that is one-third of its normal size. SleepyCat box mattress comes compressed, rolled, and shipped straight to your door in a box that is easy to handle and is a convenient solution to the overwhelming mattress shopping experience. We focus highly on R&D while developing our products. SleepyCat believes in quality experiences and hence we continuously try to improve our standards and provide the best quality for our customers.”
Other technological integration at SleepyCat:
Chatbot: Automated chatbot to handle most common queries, like order status, track items, delivery timelines for a product. It also answers FAQs, helps with product descriptions, setup videos, etc. And all this is done using an AI-based system. Users' queries are matched to the intent in which the question is asked to give a correct answer.
Unified Platform for Faster Service: All communication to customers is handled on one platform. All social media communications are monitored, with constant feedback mechanisms. We have reduced our response time by 75 percent, ensuring fast resolution. Adding to it, a personalized experience is provided to our existing customers with everything synced in one internal omni platform.
Personalized Recommendation: SleepyCat website gives a personalized recommendation to users based on age, sleeping habit, mattress usage, sleeping issues. We have collected data for months to understand the user's needs, their queries, and criteria for choosing a mattress. All this is incorporated into the system to provide immediate and correct suggestions.
Customer Feedback: SleepyCat believes in constant improvement via feedback and re-engagement model. Customers are asked for feedback at various levels to ensure improvement. Customers are asked for feedback about products, deliveries, and shipments, website purchase experience, executive call experience, chat experience.
SleepyCat has served over 50,000 customers so far and is delivering over 8,000 products every month, on the back of its technologically advanced and D2C features.
“According to me, what works in a D2C set-up is customer-centric product development, comfortable purchase experience, smoother delivery processes, consistency in quality, and a strong community base. We will see large growth in the online segment as more people from tier II and tier III cities develop trust in online marketplaces. That coupled with the pricing and service offered by brands like ours make it a much more attractive deal for consumers. We have achieved a great product-market fit that can be seen with our mattress being the highest rated in the country. We’re now geared to scale up our operations. We plan to expand our design capabilities by building a state-of-the-art design lab, have more warehousing across 6-8 cities for 1-2 day delivery to all tier I and III cities and max 3-4 day anywhere in India,” avers Kabir Siddiq.
SleepyCat has raised Rs 11 crore in Series A round, led by DSG Consumer Partners & Sharrp Ventures.
Furthermore, with digital media gaining popularity, SleepyCat too has taken to digital platforms to market its products. “We use tools that help us analyze trends and data and action digital marketing campaigns accordingly. From building social media engagement activities to influencer-based marketing, we try to inculcate the importance of sleep by being a user-friendly brand,” tells Kabir Siddiq.
The mattress market comprises Polyurethane (PU) Foam, Rubberized Coir, Spring, and Cotton mattresses. While the segment has largely been unorganized, with increased awareness among consumers and growing affinity towards online and D2C brands, the organized segment has grown nearly at a CAGR of 17 percent in the last five years.
Kabir Siddiq says, “The old and unchanged mattress Industry has a big gap in the market between manufacturing a mattress and eventually delivering it to a consumer. The long chain that goes from distribution, logistics, warehousing, and retail, inflate the price of a mattress. In addition, the quality and structure of a mattress being sold at a price like that we're nowhere close to being comparable or justified. To top it all, mattress shopping is troublesome with so many unnecessary choices. The process of buying a mattress today has gotten extremely complicated, with a lot of facts and fiction confusing the buyer. We, on the other hand, have achieved a great product-market fit that can be seen with our mattress being the highest rated in the country.”
SleepyCat is looking at opening up its experience centers by the end of the year.