Save for the TV, it's difficult to imagine any appliance or piece of furniture that most of us spend more time with every day than our bed. Unlike the television set, however, whose channels and program you can change all you want, there's not much you can do with a bed outside of the cosmetic once you've bought it and set it up. You either like its support or you don't. The mattress is either right or it's not. Because of the cost involved, making changes can be prohibitive for most of us, so it's important to get everything right when you make the buy.
Officials at Group 180 Personalized Sleep Experts think they can steer you correctly on every point: comfort, support, appearance, cost and delivery. Delivery? Well, yes, you've got to get the thing home, and the kind of bedding and support systems Group 180 manufactures and markets can't be tossed in the well of the minivan. And it needs to be set up in the customer's residence as well, and that can involve some expertise.
Group 180 and its suppliers take care of the manufacture of memory-foam mattresses, pillows, mattress protectors, adjustable bases and other accessories. It's that delivery and setup that's outsourced. That's where NonstopDelivery comes in. The Chantilly, Va.-based logistics services provider offers complete white-glove delivery and setup, though not from the client's showroom because Group 180's business model doesn't work like that.
Group 180 is a division of Fredman Brothers Furniture of St. Louis. For almost 50 years, Fredman has marketed bedding products under the Glideaway and Sleep Harmony brands. In addition to mattresses with adjustable bases that raise up, Fredman's product line includes foldaway and hideaway bedding. The Group 180 division markets largely the same type of products but they are sold almost entirely through temporary showrooms at home and garden shows, remodeling expos and state fairs, according to Sarah Anderson, Group 180 sales and service coordinator.
The company participates in at least 25 such shows around the country each year, she says. The sales pitch is targeted almost exclusively at homeowners who want quality bedding but at a lower price than brick-and-mortar stores can afford to offer. Anderson acknowledges that the adjustable bases can be ideal for the elderly, those with with sleeping issues or customers with limited range of motion, but the sales presentation does not emphasize that. Nor do sales staff target hotels, sleep centers or nursing homes, which might be expected to be among potential customers.
Orders taken at these shows are not filled there, of course. Fulfillment begins at Group 180's shipping department in St. Louis. From there, shipments are made to terminals close to the purchaser's home. That's where Nonstop takes over, though it offers complete cross-country linehaul services as well, says Steve Senkus, Nonstop CEO.
For the time being at least, the bedding company has opted to stay with other providers for the St. Louis-to-terminal delivery. The crucial link in the delivery process is the last mile and home installation, Anderson says. It was Nonstop's expertise in that area that prompted Group 180 officials to go with the Virginia provider in the first place.
Formerly, several providers were contracted only to make curbside delivery, says Anderson. With the change in the business model, a change in providers was required as well.
"We still do offer curbside service, but it's definitely not the preferred choice," she says. "Most of our customers demand in-home delivery, and Nonstop has nationwide reach. We also needed someone to assemble the headboards and bases and to take away the old bedding. So, I would say that customer service is definitely why we went with them."
While Nonstop offers a complete palette of delivery services, last-mile delivery is a large part of its business. Through its agents around the country and Canada, Nonstop makes more than 5,000 such deliveries each week for its client base, according to Senkus. Some of those contracts involve full transit service, from pickup at the customer's plant, warehouse or DC, all the way to final delivery.
Consolidation, of course, is the key to making the delivery business succeed. But there are single-transaction deliveries from time to time that can't be avoided. "That's just the nature of the beast."
In the case of Group 180, it ships an order to one of the estimated 200 terminals that Nonstop works with around the country. From there, agents consolidate and route freight in the most economical way that's consistent with delivery-window agreements with the provider's estimated 120 vendors. "We don't like to exceed those," says Senkus. For Group 180, deliveries can take one to two weeks, Anderson says, and Nonstop handles all delivery schedule communications with the customer.
Returns are infrequent, she says, but can occur due to customer dissatisfaction with color or some other factor. Nonstop is tasked with running the reverse process, which with bedding products can involve documenting delivery to a charity or even product destruction. Again, it handles the communications with the end user in terms of pickup, and with the shipping department in St. Louis.
Summing up, Anderson says of the partnership, "The customer satisfaction is great, and the line of communication is thorough and up front."
Nonstop Delivery, www.nonstopdelivery.com
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