Are e-commerce customers in India matured enough to buy a two-year old pure online brand owned by a unheard start-up, which has not done any mass marketing campaign or has any presence in physical stores? What if, it is a mattress brand that people usually touch, feel, sit and if possible lie down before buying. The answer is yes. Wakefit clocked a 3x growth in its second year of operations and sold over 28,000 mattresses last year.
Pure online brands are a rarity in India. Even globally, there are a few pet product brands in the US that have done well by fully relying on the online channel. “There are a few mattress brands in the US which are completely online. But they have not yet created great success stories for us to get inspired,” said Ankit Garg, CEO and co-founder of Wakefit.
So what is it that has made Wakefit a success? Wakefit offers 100-day trial period, return of full price on rejection, 20-year warranty and pricing that is 30 to 40 per cent lower than similar known brands in the offline market.
“With a chemical engineering background, I knew that the mattresses that are sold in the market are inflated in terms of pricing and 30 to 60 per cent of the cost goes as margins for the distributors and retailers. We wanted to cut this cost and get the customers same quality mattresses at much lower prices,” he said.
When Ankit Garg and Chaitanya Ramalingegowda founded the start-up in 2016, they decided to take the products directly from the manufacturing facility to the homes and to reach out to the customer the cheapest and easiest channel was online. Wakefit has neither raised any VC funding nor has believed in spending crores in mass marketing. Instead, the entire brand-building has happened through online and through customer referrals.
Wakefit wants to have a complete control over the production and research and development. Hence it produces the entire stock at its Bangalore facility, which has a capacity to produce 200 million mattresses per day. This has also helped the company quickly respond to the customer insights and make the changes accordingly.
In 2016, the company had started off with spring mattresses, latex mattresses, normal foam mattresses and memory foam mattresses. Post launch, the company undertook a research involving 100 households and 1000 customers to find out their needs. It found that latex mattress segment was shrinking and the rejection rates were high in spring mattresses. It stuck to memory foam mattresses and developed cool foam technology to keep mattresses cool in summers.
“Our 100-day trial clicked with the customers. A person buying mattress from a store cannot fully guage the comfort of the mattress by touching or sitting on it. Hundred days is a good period to understand how comfortable the mattress is,” said Garg. The return rate is just three per cent.
Wakefit sells its mattresses through Amazon, Flipkart, Urbanladder, Pepperfry and through its own website. Wakefit wants to stick to online marketing as mass marketing will add up in the cost of the product. It neither wants to go for tele-shopping to reach out to the smaller cities as it finds it as a channel for the bargain hunters.
“The online market is much smaller compared to offline. It is just 2.5 per cent of the total mattress market. But it is expected to double by 2021. We are getting orders from tier II cities as well. But even in top cities, we have just scratched the surface of the market,” said Garg.
Unlike startups, which go for several series of PE/VC funding within no time of launch, Wakefit is not in hurry to raise funds. “We have enough capacity in our manufacturing facility and we are putting internal accruals back into the business,’ he adds.