Ashley plans sleep shops
David Perry -- Furniture Today, January 23, 2013
This is the entrance area at the prototype of the ZZZ’s by Ashley sleep store in Arcadia, Wis.
Ashley, the world's largest furniture manufacturer, now has big growth plans for another category: The retail mattress arena.
The 4,200-square-foot sleep store here, designed to offer a fresh, friendly consumer- directed way to shop for mattresses and sleep accessories, marks the first visible step in Ashley's aggressive mattress strategy.
It will be followed by hundreds of similar stores in the years to come, Ashley officials said.
Company-owned ZZZ's by Ashley stores will open this year in a major metro market, the officials said. Ashley will use them to fine tune the program in preparation for a broad rollout of independently owned stores.
Ashley has built a ZZZ's showroom on the 14th floor of the World Market Center's Building B in Las Vegas and will be showing the concept to retailers at next week's Las Vegas Market.
Ashley's vision for the new kind of mattress stores is ambitious: "To become the number one mattress retailer by selling quality, innovative sleep products, offering a unique store experience and complete customer satisfaction."
"We aren't doing this to be No. 22," observed Ben Thorud, the Ashley exec who is heading the ZZZ's by Ashley program.
The ZZZ's by Ashley sleep stores are being shown first to operators of the network of Ashley Furniture HomeStores, which currently numbers 456 and covers most of the United States.
Those retailers are already solidly positioned in key markets and could establish a powerful sleep store presence, officials said.
There will be three mattress suppliers for the stores. Ashley Sleep, Ashley's imported bedding line, will supply memory foam, latex foam and gel-cushioned beds. Serta will supply its iComfort gel memory foam line, its iSeries line of gel memory foam and innersprings, and its innerspring Serta Perfect Sleeper line. And Tempur-Pedic will supply beds in its regular memory foam line.
The mattresses will be arranged by the type of construction they feature.
Shoppers are encouraged to find the pillow that best fits their sleep style before shopping for mattresses.
The stores will offer a significant departure from traditional mattress stores. "At ZZZ's by Ashley, our primary business is selling mattresses," Thorud said. "However, we are not merely a mattress store. We are a sleep store."
A key point of differentiation will be a focus on selling and promoting a better night of sleep with an extensive educational offering of sleep tips and product information.
Ashley's mission for the program: "To help create happier and healthier lives by providing a better night's sleep."
The stores target women ages 24-44 with household incomes of $75,000 and up.
The program targets a consumer demographic known as "the sage." These are consumers "driven by a desire to understand and know the world around them," Ashley said. "They use knowledge to learn and grow, which allows them to create a better world. Sage brands often impart expertise and information, or encourage customers to think, thus providing enlightenment that makes their world a better place. The ZZZ's brand fits the sage archetype by providing a store experience based on knowledge and truth rather than guesswork."
Ashley officials said they will be serving two types of customers. The first are those who are challenged to get the sleep they need. They include those who are sleep-deprived as well as those who are simply uncomfortable on the mattress they own.
The second type of customer is one who seeks the benefits of optimized sleep. These are customers who aspire to improve their overall well-being and energize their minds and their bodies. They understand that sleep is a crucial ingredient in a more fulfilling, productive and enjoyable life, Ashley officials said.
They said their new ZZZ's by Ashley stores will help both of those types of customers find products that will give them healthful sleep.
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