Company is expanding deeper into brick-and-mortar, with same focus on branding, quality and cool sleep
This is a ghost story, one that started with a boy’s fears in a dark bedroom. That boy was Marc Werner, and he was afraid that ghosts might be lurking under his bed. After a while, he overcame that fear and was able to sleep through the night, confident that ghosts would not emerge from the shadows to torment him.
The grown-up Marc Werner remembered his fear of ghosts, and he put that childhood experience to profitable use when he and colleague Alan Hirschhorn were brainstorming names for a new online mattress brand they wanted to launch. GhostBed would be that brand, one that would help sleepers banish their own restless nights.
GhostBed launched as an e-commerce seller in 2015, an early player in the direct-to-consumer mattress segment. Werner, founder and chief executive officer of Nature’s Sleep, a Plantation, Florida-based bedding company that is GhostBed’s parent, has found success by focusing on craftsmanship, quality, value, service and customer satisfaction — and by putting the ghosts into his bed, in name only, of course. The eye-catching GhostBed logo features a ghostly figure inside the “o.”
But this is a consumer-friendly ghost, one that delivers “amazing mattresses” and “unreal sleep,” the company says. Two GhostBed models placed in the top 12 of Consumer Reports’ March 2021 print list of the highest-scoring foam mattresses.
And, contrary to what you might think, that name was not selected with regard to another well-known mattress brand.
“Everyone thinks that GhostBed has something to do with Casper,” says Hirschhorn, executive vice president of sales for GhostBed. “It does not. Marc was afraid of ghosts as a boy. When we were talking about a name for our brand, we came up with GhostBed. That is a very catchy name.”
Catchy names resonate with consumers, and the GhostBed name gives the brand an edge in the crowded online marketplace. It’s one of many advantages Werner and Hirschhorn say their company enjoys.
Quick shipping and strong branding
The original work on the GhostBed line actually was done long before the brand launched, Werner says. The original mattress was designed in 2007 and the name was coined in 2009, but a family health issue delayed the launch of the brand for several years.
Werner and Hirschhorn, both bedding veterans with more than seven decades of experience in the industry between them, have forged a strong partnership through their work at GhostBed.
They say their business model, which emphasizes the quick shipment of lines designed to meet key consumer needs like cool sleep, is right for the times.
“What differentiates GhostBed is that we have specially designed a business-to-business product line that is tailored to the brick-and-mortar marketplace today,” Werner says. “Retailers have the ultimate flexibility to hold inventory or have us ship same-day to anywhere in the country. We even have a metal foundation that folds into a small box for their convenience, be it in the warehouse or drop-shipped from our facility.”
GhostBed ships daily from its six factories and nine warehouses located across the United States and from two distribution centers in Canada. Everything ships within 24 hours of receipt of the order, and orders received by 2 p.m. Eastern time typically ship that day, the company says.
“More importantly, today we have inventory and we are ready to ship,” Werner adds. “We have no product shortages because of our captive manufacturing platform of long-term partners who give our products priority. We are very important to our partners and they are very important to us, and thus they give our products priority.”
GhostBed’s retail customers also benefit from a major brand-building campaign the company has undertaken.
“Another important feature of our program is that a retailer can take advantage of our multimillion-dollar annual advertising budget,” Werner says. “That program generates more than 1.5 million unique visitors a month who see our dealer locator feature, which will drive traffic to their stores.”
AT A GLANCE
A full line of mattresses, adjustable bases, toppers and sleep accessories shipped directly to consumers, and a line designed specifically for brick-and-mortar retailers.
GhostBed was launched as an e-commerce brand in 2015 by entrepreneur Marc Werner, the founder and chief executive officer of Nature’s Sleep, a bedding company he created in 2001 when he was looking for a more comfortable mattress and pillow. Nature’s Sleep is GhostBed’s parent company.
Privately held by Marc and Donna Werner
A growing line
The GhostBed line spans a range of price points, with most models retailing for more than $1,000 for a queen mattress. A split king size of the company’s most luxurious bed, the GhostBed 3D Matrix, retails for $4,500.
Werner says consumers are willing to spend significant sums for boxed beds. “We are selling more high-end goods than lower-end goods,” he says. GhostBed offers white-glove delivery for consumers who want that convenience.
GhostBed started with a single boxed model, the Classic, designed to appeal to a broad range of consumers. The 11-inch mattress combines three layers of foam, including a layer of aerated latex on the top, and today retails for $1,295.
The line now includes the GhostBed Luxe, with core and surface technology designed to keep the mattress cool all night long, and the GhostBed Flex hybrid, which combines memory foam and an innerspring unit with a reinforced edge. The GhostBed Natural, the company’s first all-natural mattress, recently was added to the line.
At the Las Vegas Market in April, GhostBed promoted a new five-model wholesale line targeted specifically to brick-and-mortar retailers. Models retail from $799 to $3,999. The opening mattress is the GhostBed Chill, which has a 10-inch profile, a gel memory foam layer and a cover made of Ghost Ice, the company’s proprietary cool-to-the-touch fabric. Other models include the 12-inch GhostBed Original, which features a cover made of Ghost Ice fabric, a gel memory foam layer and a layer consisting of Ghost Bounce, the company’s proprietary material that contours to the body like memory foam; and the GhostBed Grand, which also has the Ghost Ice fabric, plus layers of gel memory foam and Ghost Bounce.
“We are taking our DTC model to brick-and-mortar retailers,” Hirschhorn says. “We are interested in partnering with the right retailers who will support us, and who we will support.”
The line can be shipped directly to consumers’ homes — or consumers can take the boxed beds with them after purchasing them at a store.
Online and, increasingly, in-store
GhostBed adopted a direct-to-consumer model years ago through the fortunate combination of an unexpected business opportunity and a business model ready to capitalize on it.
“We had an early opportunity years ago with a large online player,” Werner says. “Because we were uniquely prepared for this, having multiple warehouses coast to coast and a system that could handle large volume, in three days we sold and shipped 10,000 mattresses to 10,000 unique addresses. It made us realize the power of the direct-to-
“We also realized that consumers were more accepting of boxed beds,” he continues. “Armed with that information, we moved quickly to develop an online business with GhostBed. Even with all our success, we always knew that our mattresses would ultimately end up on retail floors, so we designed our products and company with that in mind. We believe that the best place to buy a mattress still is in a retail store where you can see, feel and test different products. Innovative retailers are embracing direct-to-consumer brands like GhostBed for their floors, and we stand ready to support our retail partners with all our resources. While consumers like the ease of ordering online, most still like the shopping experience and the support a local store can provide, and we want to help drive that traffic back to them.”
Werner says brick-and-mortar retailers need to embrace DTC brands because many of the brands enjoy high consumer awareness and can help drive customer traffic to retail stores. Retailers should not fear DTC mattress brands, he adds. Instead, they should partner with them. That’s a strategy already working for GhostBed, and it’s one the company will continue to pursue.
This ghost is on the move.
Werner Moves Up the Ladder
Marc Werner has climbed the ladder of success throughout his career, the last two decades of which have been in the mattress industry. And when he wanted a better mattress, he built one himself.
Werner, founder and chief executive officer of Nature’s Sleep, a Plantation, Florida-based bedding company that is GhostBed’s parent, literally started his career in ladders at his family’s business, Werner Ladder Co., where he helped continue the family’s legacy of creating durable, trustworthy products. “Quality standards are so important when you are standing 28 feet up in the air,” he says.
While it might seem strange for someone working in that business, Werner admits he was afraid of heights in those days — and still is. Luckily for him, he kept his feet on the ground for his ladder work.
Werner Ladder enjoyed a dominant market share, selling to top retailers around the United States with a product that was made in America. The Werner family, which invented aluminum and fiberglass ladders, sold the business more than two decades ago, but Marc Werner left with an appreciation for the importance of good design and quality materials.
While at Werner Ladder, he joined AmeriQuest Technologies Inc., an information technology and services company, where he served as chair. He also once served as CEO of Borg-Erickson Corp., where he assisted in the invention of the modern digital bathroom scale.
That combination of skills in product design, distribution and information technology, coupled with Werner’s background in consumer products, positioned him for success in the bedding industry, he says.
His mattress career started with a problem: He couldn’t get a good night’s sleep. The dedicated runner found his body breaking down, and he underwent three neck surgeries. When he was unable to find a comfortable pillow and mattress, he set out to design his own.
In 2001, he founded Nature’s Sleep, which relies on a global manufacturing and distribution network to supply national and regional specialty sleep shops, furniture stores, mass merchants, department stores and internet retailers. The company also has a wholesale operation that serves hospitality, health care and related markets across North America.
Werner built a business model that leveraged excess capacity in mattress factories with a carefully coordinated distribution network to deliver low-cost, high-quality sleep products. The company says its logistics and distribution network is “unmatched” in the marketplace.
Werner was quick to see potential in the direct-to-consumer marketplace, launching GhostBed in 2015 and focusing on strong values, cooling components and customer satisfaction. That formula continues to pay dividends.
“Our customers love us so much, it’s spooky,” GhostBed says today.