Amazon Product Reviews Elevate Brand Success
In 2011, John Merwin, CEO of DreamFoam Bedding took a suggestion from his wife to start selling mattresses online. With 17 successful brick and mortar stores and a company valued at just over $9 million dollars already under his belt, Merwin was no rookie to the retail business.
Merwin made a decision to invest in the growing Amazon Marketplace and five years later, his company (including Brooklyn Bedding & Dreamfoam Bedding) is now trending close to $50 million in revenue, thanks to product quality, competitive pricing, local manufacturing, and a near five-star rating on Amazon product reviews.
Merwin shares insight on how he was able to keep up with Amazon’s inventory demands and leverage Amazon product reviews to ensure communication with his customers through a period of “steep growth”.
DreamFoam Bedding Enters the Amazon Marketplace
“Amazon was my first venture into ecommerce. My wife purchases everything on Amazon and she was the first one to say, ‘I think people would buy your beds online.’ That’s when I made the decision to invest and purchased the machine that I needed to roll and compress beds so I could sell them online,” he said.
DreamFoam Bedding started manufacturing memory foam and latex beds, a trending style of mattress known to decrease back pain. Merwin decided to “cut out the middle man” and manufacturer the mattresses himself, allowing the company to “make them to order”, compress, and ship quickly.
“I put one bed up on Amazon, not thinking much of it. I was still focused on brick and mortar and we were adding more stores. I thought, let’s see what happens.”
Initially, Merwin was skeptical if customers would flock to the Amazon Marketplace to buy their mattress since they would not be able to test them out before hand. Two months later, the bed sold.
“We got excited. But then we thought – what do we do now? That’s when it really started to snowball.”
Leveraging Amazon Product Reviews
The first few Amazon sales went off without a hitch. Then Merwin received his first customer complaint. The bed was too stiff. DreamFoam knew they would have to address these complaints and formulate a system to avoid negative feedback.
Merwin decided to leverage Amazon’s direct customer feedback to manage the mattress firmness requests. Customers were able to communicate specifics regarding what level of firmness they wanted for each mattress. This direct communication was the starting point for DreamFoam’s success on Amazon.
Soon his company reached a 5 star rating thanks to the personal emails to customers – an element his company still practices today as you can see in the below example.
“Suddenly, beds online were selling as much as our busiest brick and mortar stores,” Merwin said.
“Because the product was so good and at a decent price – reviews started pouring in. We do a lot of advertising on Facebook and Instagram – we’re on Google Shopping but it doesn’t generate a lot of revenue for us. Amazon has been a big vehicle.”
Today, DreamFoam bedding maintains a 4.7 feedback rating (1,801 reviews).
Amazon Inventory and Manufacturing Obstacles
“We have 24 retail stores – but now 65 percent of my overall business is online. We’ve been on a steep growth.”
“That’s been hard to manage. The problem that we were having is that we couldn’t keep up our manufacturing. We are still manufacturing everything ourselves. We just kept growing and selling more beds and pretty soon we were manufacturing out of 4 different facilities – which was really inefficient. We just couldn’t keep up.”
Two years ago, Merwin made a decision to build a 145,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Pheonix, Arizona.
“We now have more than enough capacity. Before, we were basically working 7 days a week just to keep up with the sales that we had coming in. Now we’re starting to get more creative, we’re working on new products and different marketing ideas and now we can sell more beds.”
“Our product is really good – because we manufacture it ourselves. We wouldn’t move our manufacturing overseas. Long term growth, the plan is to open a facility on the east coast.”
How will Amazon’s New Review Platform Impact Sellers?
Amazon recently announced a major upgrade to their review system platform to give more weight to newer and “helpful” reviews by customers.
For nearly two decades, Amazon’s review platform has served as a source of guidance for online shoppers. In wake of their latest lawsuit against several fake review websites, Amazon returned to the drawing board to redesigned the framework of their in-house system.
In addition to the 5 star rating, Amazon’s new review system will factor in:
- Newer Reviews
- Reviews from verified Amazon purchases
- Reviewers customers vote as “helpful”
No announcements have been made regarding whether the new system will be available to other countries. Back in April, Amazon took legal approach – the first of it’s kind and filed suit against four fake review website companies including BuyAzonReviews.com, BuyAmazonReviews.com, BayReviews.net and BuyReviewsNow.com.
We asked Merwin what he thinks of the recent changes – since the very foundation of his business is based so heavily on them.
“I like the recent changes,” Merwin said.
“I’d like them to do away with unverified purchase reviews. There’s been some competitors -not just in mattresses but in other products on Amazon, where companies are just pumping in unverified reviews and it’s just helping them to increase sales. Most people will say that customers are knowledgeable and can look past it – but when it becomes overwhelming – then I think it makes a big difference.”
Alleviating the Amazon Purchasing Gap
According to Merwin, although his Amazon sales are growing – online sales for mattresses are typically only 8 to 10 percent of the total market.
“Obviously, there’s a huge opportunity for growth and that is what we are focused on – to become a national brand.”
“Something we’ve been working on is we’re going to incorporate a brick and mortar aspect to the business. We want to open a unmanned mattress store. No sales people – because shoppers are already online doing their research, reviews, and pricing.”
“We’re going to go into big markets and we’re going to open up 5 to 6 stores unmanned. Basically we will let customers come into a showroom, leave, and buy the bed online.”
“This would be a way to reassure the customer they are making the right decision. They don’t have to worry about a salesperson trying to upsell them. A lot of times that’s why people buy online because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of a salesperson and so the idea is that someone can come in – look at 2 or three beds , try them out, and make a purchase.”