Like a lot of overnight success stories, this one was years in the making.
“It’s something that took them 20 years to perfect,” says Dan Bischoff, Purple’s Director of Communications.
He’s talking about Tony and Terry Pearce, the founders of the comfort company, Purple, who have created possibly the most innovative sleep technology in decades and achieved phenomenal ecommerce success in just six months.
The brothers came together with deep knowledge sets—Tony an aerospace engineer (us normal folk call them rocket scientists) and Terry an expert in materials and manufacturing—to solve a problem every person in the world experiences: a bad night’s sleep.
From Pain to Purple
The Pearces’ 20-year examination of comfort products came from their deep-seeded desire to help others.
“They want their inventions to do good,” Bischoff says. “Tony and Terry want to help people who have problems with pain and sleeping.”
Originally, the Pearce brothers banded together to create cushioning technologies that Fortune 500 companies have licensed to make wheelchairs, shoes, and medical devices more comfortable.
But the Pearce brothers knew they could do more.
Although they were already helping millions of people live more comfortably, the pair always dreamed of inventing the perfect mattress—one that combined the benefits of both firm and soft mattresses to alleviate pain, provide the best sleep imaginable, and all for thousands of dollars less than the price of leading mattresses.
After 20 years and a series of discoveries and product developments, the Pearce brothers invented what they thought was the best mattress technology in the world. They called it Hyper-Elastic Polymer™ and Purple was born.
A Bed, a Video, and Goldilocks
They named the company Purple after the color of the patented Hyper-Elastic Polymer™—the ultra-stretchy, yet durable, gel-like top layer of what would become their signature product: the Purple ™ Bed.
This material promised greater comfort and support than traditional beds made of latex, foam or springs. When the Pearces’ organized the material in small columns in a grid formation, they found a durable product that provided excellent support as well as pressure-relieving comfort. They began developing seat cushions and a mattress that would share this ultra-comfy invention with the world.
“This is the culmination of their life’s work,” Bischoff says of the mattress. “When you sleep on a Purple™, you’re sleeping on more than 15 patents and a dream come true for the Pearces’.”
To validate the product, Purple created a Kickstarter video last October. The company hit their goal of $25,000 within a few days and reached $175,000 by the end of the campaign.
Things got really crazy in January when Purple launched their “Goldilocks” video, which demonstrates the “Raw Egg Test.” This test was devised to see which of the world’s top mattresses would absorb and prevent fragile eggs from cracking under the weight of hundreds of pounds.
But Purple is more than a viral fad; they are turning heads in the industry. A recent KeyBanc report mentions Purple as the mattress company to watch in 2016, and reveals that in just a few months, Purple is rivaling other leading ecommerce mattress companies.
But does the Purple do what it promises?
“I sleep on a Purple™, and my shoulder pain is gone,” Bischoff says. “It took a week or so to get used to, but my spine is aligned properly so I can rest now as I should and I no longer have any lower back pain.”
Employees aside, customers have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the mattress. There are more than 1,300 reviews online and most talk about how well the mattress relieves their pain and helps them have deeper sleep.
This tweet from actor Stephen Bishop (who played David Justice in Moneyball) is typical:
I am. Sleeping much longer and waking up with no pressure point pains like i did with the remote.. Body regenerating https://t.co/mgzUMOaJJy— Stephen Bishop (@stephencbishop) July 11, 2016
The Future of Comfort
Purple is working on a handful of brand new products designed to complement a mattress that has quickly become what Bischoff calls “a threat to the industry.” Those new products include:
- Mattress protectors
“The Pearces’ are back there right now doing research and development,” Bischoff says, referring to the warehouse in Alpine, Utah where all Purple™ is made. “We’re testing products and plan to launch as soon as we’re confident they’re of the same caliber as the mattress.”
How Shopify Helps Purple Meet High Demand
Just six months after launching on Shopify Plus, an enterprise ecommerce solution for high-volume merchants, Purple has become one of the most popular direct-to-consumer online mattress companies. In fact, demand is so great customers ordering a Purple™ as of writing this are being told their orders won’t ship for three weeks.
“Right now we only have one machine [which the Pearce brothers invented called ‘Mattress Max’] that makes the Hyper-Elastic Polymer™,” Bischoff says. “We’re backlogged, but we’ll be getting new machines soon and believe we’ll be able to ship orders within a week shortly. It’s a really good problem to have. We had no idea how big this was going to get. In a very short period of time it has exploded.”
Bischoff’s team credits Shopify with helping it launch quickly and scale even more rapidly. For example, Purple uses embeddable “buy” buttons in blog posts that allow commerce to happen almost anywhere. And, Bischoff says, it helps reduce the number of steps necessary to checkout.
“We chose Shopify because we had limited IT resources and needed a platform that would scale in case Purple blew up,” says Alex McArthur, Purple’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We’re pleased and surprised Shopify scaled as quickly as it did to handle our growth.”
The company also credits Shopify’s robust applications store—including an app that offers a pop-up incentive to visitors who have been on the site a while but have yet to checkout—with stimulating the accelerated growth the company is experiencing.
Purple’s bet on Shopify has paid off in many other ways. For one: mobile conversions. Unlike other platforms where mobile checkouts must be custom coded, Shopify’s mobile checkout is ready right out of the box, which allows entrepreneurs to focus on marketing rather than technology:
- 70% of Purple’s traffic comes from mobile devices
- 25-30% of sales occur on mobile devices
“Shopify’s mobile friendliness really helped us with conversions,” says Bryant Garvin, Purple’s Digital Marketing Director. “The simplicity helped us launch quicker and save money on development costs.”
Easily integrating with third-party systems and platforms like Facebook has also helped Purple use Shopify to rapidly establish additional sales channels and remarketing efforts. “We love Shopify,” Bischoff says. “The dashboard is easy to use, and we check it at least three times a day just to see our sales totals.”
Just the Beginning
This overnight success isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon. The Purple™ Bed is just the beginning, according to Bischoff. He says the Pearce brothers envision a much larger company; one with a purpose and vision of helping people live more comfortably no matter where they are or what they’re doing.
“The future is beyond a mattress company,” Bischoff explains. “Ultimately, the goal is to become a comfort company.”
One that offers next generation products designed to make life more comfortable regardless of whether you’re sitting, sleeping, or standing
“The idea is to improve people’s lives everywhere,” Bischoff says proudly. “That’s where we’re going.”
But do the Pearce brothers really have more up their sleeves?
“They walk around with big smiles on their faces,” Bischoff says.
That’s what an overnight success looks like.
Twenty years after it began.