Online or Offline Sales? Why not Both?

There are some products consumers will never feel entirely comfortable buying exclusively online. While online sales of cars have improved thanks to companies like Carvana and Vroom, most people still want a test drive to kick the tires, as the saying goes, before closing the deal.

Mattress sales are not all that different. Many consumers prefer visiting a store to give their mattresses a bounce before making a purchase. Yet one mattress company is making major strides across both online and offline retail sales after reinventing its underlying IT infrastructure.

Emma, one of the world’s largest direct-to-consumer brands, is reaching a record number of customers through both online and offline channels as the company tears through the mattress industry at a blistering pace. Since the company’s launch in Frankfurt, Germany in 2013, Emma has reached customers in 30 countries. Last year, the company achieved a staggering 59% revenue increase, to €645 million, with sales online and offline.

Emma sells 80% of its mattresses online and the rest through more than 200 retailers with 3,500 stores worldwide.


Online sales picked up during the pandemic and never went down. Even in areas where restrictions and lockdowns were lifted, their online sales levels remained the same. For them, the market disruption is ongoing, especially when it comes to mattresses and pillows.

That doesn’t mean the company is turning away from in-store sales. The company recently opened a flagship store in Shanghai, China as it continues its regional expansion efforts.

Emma sees the mattress and pillow shopping experience spanning both spectrums. Consumers can visit a store to physically check out a mattress and then return home to make the purchase online and schedule delivery. They call this the “wholesale” shopping experience.

The company’s online and offline sales success is due to the quality, sleep science and smart mattress technology they put into their product designs and the technology under the covers.

Two years ago, its technology infrastructure underwent a major redesign as the company began looking for solutions that would enable it to keep up with customer demand and scale effortlessly with future growth. The solution needed to support modern consumers’ shopping behavior and an ecommerce architecture that could clear a path to future growth and innovation on a global basis.

It needed to be scalable and flexible to allow multiple teams to work in parallel. Those requirements are challenging to achieve with a proprietary or monolithic architecture.

It was, however, achievable with MACH (Microservices based, API-first, cloud-native SaaS and headless) technology. MACH allows retailers to change and connect disparate systems to enhance customer experiences and quickly adapt to changing market conditions and customer demands.

It also enables the company to maintain sales and support in online and offline scenarios. With MACH technology for its ecommerce platform and order management, Emma can provide a positive buying experience where, when and how their customers want it, with any interface or application, and avoid vendor lock-in with unwanted applications.

This flexibility means Emma can choose an order management system from one vendor and a system for its business domain from somewhere else. For example, it might need a dedicated system just for the Chinese market for doing business in China.

It took two years for Emma to reinvent its ecommerce and order management platform with commercetools to replace its ecommerce backbone and Fluent Commerce Order Management to streamline online and offline order management. Contentstack, commercetools and Fluent Commerce are MACH Alliance members, allowing their technologies to combine seamlessly to create whichever digital experience Emma needs.

This combined architecture of disparate solutions enables Emma to scale on both technical and organizational levels, so more teams and people are concurrently doing both business and software development. They’re enabling their teams to work collaboratively to improve their marketing activities in online and offline situations.

This spirit is further reflected in the company’s overall culture, which fosters the need for different groups to work together to achieve common goals. It’s a mix of culture driving technology and technology driving a culture that despises silos and encourages cohesion.

Emma’s founders wanted to develop a company where everyone feels a sense of ownership and the desire to achieve great things. Their latest architecture enables that spirit to continue to thrive. This culture and technology combined allow them to achieve great things and grow the company online and offline.

Nicola Kinsella is SVP Global Marketing at Fluent Commerce. She has over 20 years’ experience in technology that spans ecommerce, supply chain and logistics. At Fluent Commerce, an enterprise SaaS distributed order management company, she heads up Product Marketing. Her job? To use her unique blend of hands-on tech and marketing expertise to craft compelling product messages — ones that will resonate with retailers and brands globally, and fuel both sales and partner enablement. Prior to joining Fluent Commerce, Kinsella spent five years at Bridge Solutions Group, an IT consultancy that specializes in distributed order management. Awards received during her tenure included: Forbes Best Management Consulting Firms: IT-Implementation 2016, 2017, 2018 and IBM Business Partner Award: 2016 IBM Commerce Winner.

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