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Savvy Shopping with Endy Co-Founder Mike Gettis

Before Mike Gettis began Endy, the last mattress he purchased was under the advice of a very assertive salesperson. As soon as he walked into the store, they pointed out the mattress they were sure was the right one for the now-CEO and founder of Canadian sleep brand Endy. When we sat down during a recent trip back to his hometown of Calgary, Gettis remembered acknowledging the salesperson’s recommendation but asked if he could try out some other mattresses first. “They told me to go ahead, but poo-pooed the other ones saying ‘It has this problem and that problem, but that mattress? That’s the one.’” Gettis says the $1100 mattress was sponsored by the Canadian Chiropractic Association, so he remembers thinking it must be good for his back. Instead, the mattress had a dip in the middle after two years and he was out of the return period.

Gettis and Endy co-founder and chairman Rajen Ruparell launched the Canadian e-commerce mattress brand with the goal of getting things right. For anyone who hasn’t encountered an online ad for the Canadian sleep brand, at the core of the business is a 100% Canadian-made mattress that is shipped in a box the size of a hockey bag to a customer’s door.  Since launching in 2015, Gettis and Ruparell seem to have made their goal a reality as Endy has become the #1 online mattress brand in Canada, with the highest customer reviews and lowest rate of returns.

The mattress itself is an important part of the business and an accomplishment in itself — it’s soft yet firm and stands up to promises of motion resistance and temperature regulation with the proprietary Endy Comfort Foam. But what’s resonated with Canadians — millennials, in particular — is the company’s approach to retailing a product most people associate with awkward showrooms and commission salespeople. Gettis refers to this approach as the customer experience.

“A big part of that is giving people choices,” he says. “Going online, they don’t really have a salesperson breathing down their neck and they are just able to shop without any worries or friction.” He says the millennial mindset is focused on one of freedom of choice, but also a company’s customer focus including direct-to-door delivery and free removal if the product doesn’t work out. With aspects like Endy’s risk-free 100-night trial, he says all of that is solved for customers.

He says the difference between customer service and customer experience is how a company approaches issues that arise. “Customer service is about playing defence,” he says. Rather than wait for a customer to call with an issue and highlight a restrictive return policy, Gettis says customer experience is about trying to continually work towards what’s best for the customer and not necessarily what’s best for the company.

With plans to eventually open brick-and-mortar stores, Gettis keeps a close eye on different types of retails models across the country. For the average busy millennial, he says going to a department is more difficult than convenient and instead, there’s a shift towards millennials seeking out specialty stores. “It’s easier to think like ‘I need a pillow, so I’m going to go to a pillow store,'” he says. Gettis says he appreciates the success of other brands such as Warby Parker and Frank + Oak that began with a similar e-commerce model but eventually opened successful retail stores across the country. “From seeing these other companies that have done it, it is a cool experience,” he says. “We’re doing a really great job of e-commerce, it’s still really good for us and we’re growing really fast with it, so we don’t really need to add it [retail stores] now to drive sales.”

While millennials might be leading the charge in online shopping, that’s not to say everyone isn’t ready to step away from other retail experiences. Gettis says Endy has a lot of “savvy-Boomers” who, like millennials, don’t always have the time to venture out to a mattress warehouse or department store. And, we can all agree that no one enjoys a commission-driven experience.

“When I look at the commission sales experience, like, buying a house or buying a car — it’s a pain,” Gettis says. “It’s all related to that shark with a clipboard mentality. Then you get a mattress with the dip in the middle and you can’t return it.”

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By Fraser Tripp