5 Minutes With Benjamin Quiroga-Rivera, Co-founder, Emma Mattress

It's no secret that there has been a spate of new, fast-growing online mattress retailers emerging in recent years, and Emma Mattress is one of them. We had a chat with co-founder Benjamin Quiroga-Rivera to find out why this is the case.

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Emma Mattress

Tell us about the Emma Mattress story.

The company is called Emma Mattress because “Emma” was one of the most popular names in Europe at the time that the company was set up.

The Emma Mattress brand was born out of a consumer problem. Before, mattress buying was cumbersome and confusing to shoppers – and, add to this the long delivery times, it didn’t make for easy or seamless buying journey.

Using customer insight, we not only sought to make the buying process easier, more convenient and quicker, we also harnessed the science behind sleep to create a mattress that suits all body and sleep types.

There’s an increasing number of bedding and mattress retailers emerging online – do you think there’s a reason behind this trend?

As a business we are entirely focused on meeting the needs of our evolving and expanding customer base. One thing for retailers to consider is that shoppers nowadays want convenience. And nowhere is this truer than in the online environment.

With the simplicity and convenience of online ordering, delivery in just one to three days and a 100-night comfort guarantee, we have been driver in the digital transformation of the mattress industry, known for its complexity, inconvenience and sometimes long lead times.

What gap in the UK retail market does Emma Mattress strive to address?

Direct-to-consumer brands like Emma Mattress have unparalleled access to consumer’s sleep feedback. We ensure that the feedback loop is closed by continually collecting sleep data and feeding this directly into our R&D. By listening to our customers‘ feedback, we quickly drive product innovation that optimally maps to the sleeping needs of UK consumers. Because of being able to fine-tune product, The Emma Original mattress has been named best product in six European countries by independent consumer magazines.

How is Emma Mattress’ business model different to say, Eve Sleep, which recently issued a profit warning?

Product quality and marketing efficiency feed into our growth. We believe this is a much more lasting strategy to superior products and creating a brand people trust. Our strategy might seem less aggressive also given our less comparative funding, but we have outgrown almost all competitors in our space. So, we see this as a confirmation our unique approach is winning favour with consumers.

What’s in store for Emma Mattress for the rest of 2018?

We have lots of exciting plans for growth in the pipeline. Emma Mattress has two patents pending currently, as part of its drive to develop an innovative ergonomic mattress structure that meets the needs of different body and sleep types. We will also be partnering with DFS to sell the Emma Hybrid, online and across its physical store estate.

How is Emma Mattress addressing some of the challenges facing the retail industry as a whole?

Despite the tough trading conditions, retail in the UK appears to be quite resilient.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in the three months to June 2018, the quantity bought in retail sales increased by 2.1 per cent – the largest increase since February 2015, with growth across all main sectors.

We try not to obsess over challenges and instead work with the on-going trends such as convenience, omnichannel, and brand trust which will only grow and get stronger. By focusing on these priorities, it enables us to avoid some of the pitfalls that other businesses are facing such as poor online presence, Amazon-proofing and oversized physical estates.

What would you say is the biggest risk for the retail sector, given the current climate?

Outdated tax laws. It is clear that many businesses are not playing by the same rules, so it is necessary that we have tax policies that reflect the rapidly changing customer journey.

With regards to Brexit, even though we have contingency plans in place, we are confident that both sides will work in the interest of consumers and businesses and therefore don’t see this as major threat.

Describe your role and responsibilities as co-founder of Emma Mattress.

My main responsibility is to continually build and strengthen the team behind Emma Mattress’ remarkable growth.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

Through my work at growth media agencies, I have had the privilege of working with many inspiring challenger brands in the past and have seen first-hand their growth and challenges. Like any other ambitious individual, eventually you also want to have a go.

What got you into retail in the first place?

The speed. Not many industries can give you the ability of seeing results in hours. I work well with moving quickly, might explain my short attention span.

How has your previous experience aided your current job?

Marketing efficiency is a key pillar for any retail business. I have had the great fortune of working with smart individuals who have helped me understand the fundamentals behind building a robust marketing-oriented business.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Stamina. This isn’t a sprint but a marathon. We are building a long-lasting business here, so it is important that we sometimes take time to reflect.

And the most rewarding?

Customer satisfaction. Our business model gives us access to immediate feedback from customers. We therefore derive great satisfaction from optimising our product and experience and seeing the satisfaction that this creates to our customers.

What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail?

Give it a go, it’s the only way to truly find out if you have a passion for retail. There are many different types of retail, so don’t be too concerned if your first step in retail doesn’t quite inspire you.

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