In a category as relatively new as digital D2C, it’s easy to lose perspective. Companies younger than your kindergartner are already turning unicorn. That’s why I love to talk with anyone from an “old” company, like Saatva.
Founded in New York in 2011, it’s not only a long-term survivor, it’s profitable. And with a looming retail expansion, it’s about to find new ways to connect with weary Americans.
Ricky Joshi, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer, fills in D2C FYI on some of the reasons he thinks the brand has been so successful, even as Casper and Purple have pushed past it, both in revenues and buzz.
D2C FYI: What’s different for companies starting today?
Ricky Joshi: When we started, selling only mattresses and only online, it was hard to define. The whole notion of digitally native D2C companies was a new vernacular. Now, there are so many traditional brands leaving brick-and-mortar -- and so many D2C brands opening stores -- that’s a big change. And it’s nice to know that we can take the same ethos, launching a D2C company online, and bring it into brick-and-mortar stores.
D2C FYI: Why expand in stores now?
Joshi: We are so data-oriented, and that’s what’s helped us grow. And it’s what guiding the store strategy. The first one opens in New York next month, with 100 planned over the next four years. We’ve chosen the locations using mapping data, and when stores open, we should see lift in a five-mile area. And as we do, we’ll scale. We’ve always been good about scaling something as soon as it works.
D2C FYI: So it’s all about data?
Joshi: No. The most important thing, by far, is having a superior product. We worked hard to get our white-glove delivery service set up, to make a sustainable product -- that’s so important to our audience.
And our customer service is 24/7. We answer the phone right away and if for some reason, someone isn’t happy, we make it right immediately.
D2C FYI: Explain a bit more about sustainability. In a world where millions of mattresses wind up in landfills, what does that mean?
Joshi: That’s been our creed from Day One. We use recycled steel, our foams are organic and we use plant thistle for a flame retardant. We do everything we can to make sure our products are made the right way. We take your old mattress away, and recycle it. And we don’t have the off-gassing problems that the bed-in-a-box brands do.
D2C FYI: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Joshi: Not doing PR early enough. Our brand name did not get out as fast. We didn’t really start until 2015. If I could go back in time, I would have made a bigger thing of what we were doing. Casper and others came in and owned that role, as a result.
D2C FYI: What about advertising?
Joshi: We developed a spot that ran regionally during the Super Bowl that’s worked really well. It’s a fun way of explaining what we do. We’ll step up local advertising as we open new stores.
D2C FYI: What’s next?
Joshi: We see ourselves as a curator of beautiful homes, with high-quality furniture at affordable price points, and 24/7 customer service. We’ll keep making sure that our customer service warranties are No. 1.
D2C FYI: What advice do you give startups?
Joshi: People who are focused on purely great products will win, in general. And customer service, which is part of the product, is everything. People trust you, and you create a reputation for success and customer commitment.