From storing mattresses in a garage to being the UK’s largest bed stockist – underpinned by increasingly creative technological solutions and a daring ‘clicks-and-mortar’ strategy – ecommerce pioneer Mattress Online is celebrating 20 years of business. To mark the occasion, Furniture News asked CEO Steve Adams to share 20 key observations of his time in the industry, and the changing face of bed retail …   

1. The popularity of rolled mattresses changed the landscape of the industry. We started selling them back in 2003, and it’s been great to watch them become ‘normal’

2. More springs doesn’t mean more comfort – it’s a big misconception in the mattress world

3. Since 2003, we’ve moved away from faux leather and metal beds, and they’re now (thankfully) in the graveyard of home furnishings

4. Recycling has become super important over the last 20 years. Mattress Online was one of the first to launch a non-profit service, so it’s been great to see

5. Building a strong team has been a learning curve over the last two decades. I’m lucky enough to employ some of the best and most loyal people you could meet

6. Learn to delegate – as your team grows, it’ll make life easier. I’ve done literally every job in the business over the years, and having a specialised team to lighten the load is pointless if you don’t let go of the reins when you need to 

7. It’s bloody difficult, and if you’re not all-in, giving it 100%, then it’s going to be impossible to build a successful business 

8. Sustainability is key to consumer choice now, but 20 years ago I don’t think it was a consideration for many people – it’s a very positive change

9. It’s now almost the norm that a customer will look at an ecommerce store first, even if they’re going to buy in the high street. Twenty years ago, that simply wouldn’t have happened. The high street and online now complement each other

10. I’ve made lifelong industry friends along the way, and met some extraordinary characters – it’s never been dull

Discover the rest of Steve's observations in February's issue.