[Indie Interview] Jamie Latham, CTO of MattressNextDay
Over the last few years, the mattress market has undergone several transformations. Tie this together with the impact and growth of ecommerce as a result of the pandemic, and well… it’s certainly a buoyant and interesting time for a business like MattressNextDay. In our latest indie interview series, we talk to part owner and CTO Jamie Latham to find out more.
Can you give us the background into MattressNextDay?
The business originally started as a father and son operation with a bed & furniture shop in London. The website was launched early in 2003 when the founders saw things were moving online. We were one of the first independents to offer mattresses online with free next day delivery, which back then was quite ahead of the times.
Today, Martin Seeley remains our CEO, allowing us to still very much maintain the same values that defined us as a family business back then. We’re now a team of 35 staff with a warehouse and our own fleet of vans.
What is your role?
I started working at MattressNextDay pretty much from day one, seeing it grow from a small family run business to one of the UK’s largest online mattress and bed specialists, with over £15 million in online sales last year. Over the years my role has developed. I became the IT manager, the IT Director and now I’m the Chief Technology Officer, and one of three owners. Naturally, our website is pivotal to our model so it’s my key focus. We have a highly dedicated team consisting of web developers and marketing professionals, and we’re constantly supporting and improving the eCommerce experience to make the sales process (which can be quite complicated) as smooth and frictionless as possible. We really want to make it easy for customers to find their perfect mattress.
Supply chain challenges are a real struggle for many retailers right now. How are you managing, especially considering your brand promise of next day delivery?
We haven’t been substantially directly affected, thankfully. The majority of our products are manufactured in the UK so Brexit has not been a major issue for us. The lockdown was challenging due to the supply chain being held back and there were some delays inevitably, but we were fortunate in that we held a strong level of stock and maintained very good relationships with our suppliers which allowed us to stay ahead of most retailers.
How do you manage customer engagement and feedback?
We aim to make it as easy as possible. For customer support, we offer online digital tickets, online chat and a dedicated sales and customer service department if customers prefer to pick up the phone. We also interact with customers via social media.
Feedback is key. We have a strong long-standing partnership with Trustpilot for independent feedback and reviews. What we are focussed on is not looking at the 5-star reviews but rather where we didn’t get it quite right. This helps us understand where we can improve, what we could be doing better. As a company we are agile, and are very much a data-driven business and ask customers for feedback and carry out surveys to continually improve. This means that we can really listen to and understand our customer’s journeys, respond quickly and pinpoint areas for improvement (or areas we’re excelling in).
How did the partnership with Ecologi come about?
Being able to offset our carbon footprint with Ecologi offered us some immediacy to our sustainability goals. Ecologi was a perfect fit for us. Every time a customer buys from us, we plant a tree on their behalf. Customers can then see what type of tree and where it has been planted, and watch it grow. We really liked that it was engaging and interactive. It’s just one step towards making a better impact and we’re passionate about our environmental journey. We are now proud to be a climate positive workforce, planting over 500 trees a month which is based on our workforce’s carbon footprint.
Plastic is another on-going concern for us. When products arrive, they are in plastic packaging to help reduce damage and protect the product for the customer. We know we need to do something as this isn’t sustainable for us or our industry. As a company, we came up with 6 key pledges, one of which was to replace the plastic usage with something that is more sustainable and environmentally friendly. It’s an ongoing effort from every direction from us and our suppliers.
What challenges in UK retail right now?
The cost of living crisis, combined with the price increase of raw materials and inflation are all challenges we are currently facing as a society. As an online business, we are hopeful for robust levels of consumer confidence. Although we may see some dips, we still anticipate solid future growth.
Off the back of the pandemic, we must keep the flexibility for staff to work from home as they need, commute as they can – some staff will prefer to come in with the increase in gas and electricity – it’s all a balance. Like many companies, we’re taking a flexible approach.
Consumer trends will continue to shift online. Mobile devices now account for over 65% of our traffic. As a business, we need to ensure that our website, across all devices, is slick, smooth-running and up to the speed, that consumers’ demand. Tech is a constant challenge; it’s shifting and changing, and we need to stay ahead of our competitors. We have exciting plans in place for 2022 to achieve this.
What’s on the horizon
We have broken ground on our new warehouse and showroom that will be ready later this year. This would essentially double our operating capacity, along with a dedicated 3,500 square feet showroom. During the pandemic, we saw a surge in online demand. This led to challenges in relation to stock and storage space for example – and we felt that if we were to continue with our growth, we would need to scale. With the bed and mattress market worth over £2billion, there is a massive opportunity and scope for future growth.
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