South Bay Helps Retailers Succeed Online

Bedding company thrives by offering turnkey private-label lines, drop-shipping and more

South Bay International commands a growing presence on the online highway.The company helps retailers and their customers find their way onto that thoroughfare, and it speeds mattresses, adjustable bases and sleep accessories to consumers, anywhere in the United States.

Online shopping traffic increased sharply last year as pandemic shutdowns challenged brick-and-mortar retailers, and South Bay executives say the company was able to service legions of new customers who ventured online and bought beds from the company’s private-label programs. 

Early on, South Bay realized the pandemic was going to play havoc with traditional bedding practices —  and, the company says, it found itself uniquely positioned to help its retailers in the disruptive climate.

South Bay, owned by Keeson Technology Corp. in Jiaxing, China, touts its “exceptional service, nationwide drop-shipping and complete turnkey solutions” as key capabilities.

E-commerce fulfillment is a vital service in today’s retail mattress landscape. At a time when supply chain problems persist throughout the industry, some retailers don’t want to stock inventory, and South Bay provides the warehouse for those retailers.

The company’s growing product line includes mattresses, toppers, adjustable bases, bed frames, pillows, sheets, protectors and other accessories.

In a sense, South Bay has been preparing for this new day for more than a decade, when the company first entered the e-commerce arena. It is a channel that has steadily gained importance for the company — and the industry — since.

“We have the ability to pivot and adapt quickly to changes in the economy and industry,” says Dani Serven, the bedding veteran who has been South Bay’s chief operating officer since 2014. “Being a vertically integrated company allows us to control quality and have extremely competitive pricing with superior components and technologies.”

The starting place

South’s Bay’s ability to adapt to changing times helped it evolve from the OEM model that launched the company in 1993 to the e-commerce model that characterizes it today. E-commerce now accounts for more than 90% of South Bay’s business.

The company has grown largely outside the industry’s spotlight. South Bay focuses on helping its partners grow their businesses, rather than making its own headlines, its leaders say. That approach has served the company well, letting it focus on improving its capabilities without outside distractions, according to the company.

South Bay has been preparing steadily for growth since it first paved its own access ramp to the online mattress highway, strengthening its capabilities in product development, manufacturing, warehousing, shipping and customer service as online mattress sales have claimed a growing share of total bedding sales.

Now that online traffic is racing along, South Bay is reaping the benefits of its commitment to the channel, and the company says it is positioned for more success.

 Two years ago, South Bay opened a new 220,000-square-foot mattress manufacturing, warehouse and order fulfillment facility in Rancho Cucamonga, California. All of the company’s mattresses are produced in that facility, with covers and foams coming from other company-owned factories.

Rancho Cucamonga, about 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, also is home to South Bay’s customer service center, another important element of the company’s operations. Customer service team members thoroughly understand South Bay’s product lines and are ready to help customers with any questions that arise, company leaders say.

Adjustable bed bases, a fast-growing category for South Bay, come from the company’s 1 million-square-foot facility in Jiaxing, China.

A resource for retailers

The company has thrived by helping retailers jump into online mattress sales with programs tailored to meet their specific needs. That ability to customize programs aids retailers of all sizes, from Top 100 powerhouses to mom-and-pop operators, the company says.

“South Bay International drop-ships mattresses and adjustable bases nationwide with an easy, low-risk/high-reward business model, thus making SBI a popular choice for any business regardless of size,” Serven says.

“Easy” is one of the key words in South Bay’s corporate vocabulary. While the online mattress world is full of complexities, South Bay uses its experience in the channel to play a consultative role with retailers, walking them through the process of developing unique bedding lines designed for success in their markets and with their customers. One size does not fit all at South Bay.

Retailers may have had trepidations about selling online, but the pandemic forced many of them to look at their businesses with fresh eyes. Now, Serven says, a new retail paradigm is emerging, one that values both brick-and-mortar retailing and e-commerce. Most of South Bay’s customers, after all, are brick-and-mortar stores, but now they are more appreciative of the growing role of online sales across the retail landscape. 

“E-commerce has been our bread and butter since (our start in it) 13 years ago,” says Toby Konetzny, senior vice president of business development. “We have grown with the times and lived through almost every challenge an e-commerce company has faced. Our business knowledge and experiences help us provide a seamless niche offering to dealers and companies looking to sell online and offer private-label mattress programs. We do all the heavy lifting for our dealers and private-label brands because we have the expertise and infrastructure to take care of all their needs.” 

That heavy lifting paid off last year. “We had a great year in 2020,” Konetzny says. “And this year has been even greater.”

South Bay continues to be a top resource in the bedding category with its advanced technologies, state-of-the-art equipment, multiple warehouses, in-house labs, product testing facilities and customer call center. Its operating procedures, Konetzny says, are built upon the highest standards of quality, value and service in the industry.

New products and technologies

One example of the company’s commitment to advanced technologies is the development of Allerknit, a bedding line, the company says is “highly efficacious in the repelling and abatement of dust mites,” which are associated with dust mite allergies.

According to the company, extensive lab experiments have shown that Allerknit repels 99% of dust mites through a combination of mite-killing powder, bactericidal molecules and natural plant extracts. The Allerknit process laminates the technologies into single silk fibers, which, the company says, allows a long-lasting slow release to combat dust mites.

Allerknit, a patent-pending technology, will be offered on South Bay products later this year. The company says it is “looking at any and all required approvals to further the marketing availability for the product.”

More product innovations are on the way, officials say.

South Bay Touts Programs Tailored for Retailers

It takes a comprehensive approach to the bedding business to become a one-stop shop for mattress retailers. And that’s exactly what South Bay International offers its customers, the company says.

Retailers have plenty on their plates these days and that’s why they need a bedding resource that can get them up to speed in the rapidly growing e-commerce world, according to South Bay. The company, based in Rancho Cucamonga, California, works with its retailers on everything from product development to branding to warehousing to customer support. 

South Bay has more than a decade of experience in e-commerce and has developed capabilities to help retailers launch compelling online mattress programs, the company says. It also offers nationwide drop-shipping directly to consumers so retailers don’t need to handle its mattresses and sleep accessories.

These are some of the specific capabilities South Bay executives say the company offers:

Product development: South Bay focuses on comfort, quality and value when developing new products, and the product development team always is looking to incorporate the latest bedding technologies into its products, according to the company. South Bay offers turnkey private-label programs and custom designs for its retail and OEM partners.

Sleep technology: The company has more than 400 patents and certifications around the world. Key product features include a patented edge technology with reinforced edges for sitting stability and a larger sleeping surface; the Flex-Air Channel Base, in which 1-inch grooves are cut into the base material of the mattress to help circulate air and provide flexibility with an adjustable bed base; and smart device charging and control functions built into its adjustable bases.

Manufacturing: South Bay says it has “one of the largest mattress and adjustable base factories in the world.” All of the company’s memory foam and hybrid mattresses are assembled and packaged in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Warehousing and distribution: The California warehouse features 40-foot ceilings for maximum use of space, skylights to let in natural light, industrial-size fans to keep employees cool, and a barcode system for tracking and shipping products. The warehouse includes almost two dozen loading docks.

Shipping: South Bay offers same-day order processing for in-stock items and for orders placed before 11 a.m., Pacific time. The company’s rates reflect an average of shipping rates for deliveries in the contiguous United States. Shipping options include FedEx, freight forwarding and white-glove delivery.

Customer service and vendor support: The company’s customer service representatives and service technicians are available to all of the company’s retailers and end-users. The company has samples of all of its products at its Rancho Cucamonga facility for hands-on training. Members of the customer service and product development teams meet regularly to share customer feedback, improve product expertise and enhance product designs.

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