Is buying a mattress online better than buying in store? I'm a sleep writer — here's my take

A couple go mattress shopping together in store
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When shopping for a new bed you might find yourself wondering whether buying a mattress online vs in store is better. While both options have their benefits, how you shop can determine the kind of bed you end up with and just how happy you are with your mattress.

I know from my experience testing some of the best mattress of 2024 that you can buy some excellent options online. However, the hands-on experience of a brick and mortar mattress store is tough to beat – although the range of mattresses available online is definitely a tempting prospect.

So can the convenience of buying a mattress online beat the personalized experience of shopping in a store? I've weighed up the pros and cons of both options, so you can decide how you want to shop for a mattress before the 4th of July mattress sales.

Buying a mattress online vs in store: convenience

Convenience is key to the online mattress shopping experience. There are a huge range of bed options, a wealth of reviews, and you can shop wherever and whenever you like – including when you wake up in the middle of the night aching from your current mattress. And once you've chosen your mattress, it will be delivered straight to your door, often in a convenient box.

Heading to a mattress store is less convenient, as you have to fit your buying to their schedule. And if you're after a specialist bed, such as the best mattress for heavy people, you might have to travel quite far to find a store that suits your needs. However, once you're at the store, you do have the convenience of beds directly in front of you. 

A woman with long dark hair buys a mattress online via her laptop during memorial day sales while lying on her current bed which needs replacing

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Buying a mattress online vs in store: affordability

Online-only mattress in a box brands save money by eliminating the brick and mortar store. This saving then trickles down to the consumer, resulting in a better price (especially when you factor in regular mattress sales). When shopping online you also have access to a range of pricing – there's everything from the best budget mattresses to the ultra-premium best luxury mattresses.

Conversely, mattress stores tend to stock beds in a similar price range, which means you have less cost variety. However, if you shop in store you can sometimes negotiate a better price, especially for extras such as delivery and returns. 

Buying a mattress online vs in store: sleep trials

Head along to a mattress store and you have the opportunity to test every bed they have in stock. You can touch, feel, and even lie on the mattress to get acquainted with the support and pressure relief. And if one mattress isn't to your liking, you simply move onto the next. Trying before buying is one of the reasons in store mattress shopping remains so popular. 

This might seem like a clear win over buying online, but shopping virtually does have its own testing benefits – mattress trials. With a sleep trial you get to actually spend multiple nights on the bed, allowing your body to adapt to the new feel and see if it's right for you in the long-term. Some brands even offer year-long trials, giving you a full 365 days to decide on your mattress.

Buying a mattress online vs in store: buying advice

A woman and man lie together on a amattress that's the wrong size, he's taking up all the space on the right while she's squeezed onto the left

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Head along to a brick and mortar store and you can speak to a mattress expert in person. They can talk you through the options, discuss what kind of bed will suit your needs, and help you make an order. However, mattress salespeople do have a reputation for being a little pushy, and you might feel pressured to buy there and then.

While you can't have a face-to-face conversation when shopping online, with third-party reviews and detailed mattress breakdowns, you can still get a pretty good idea of what to expect from your bed. Online sites often have the option to chat to a real person if you prefer a personalized approach, but you might have to navigate a chatbot to get there.

Buying a mattress online vs in store: delivery and set up

The majority of online mattresses are beds in a box, meaning the mattresses are flattened, rolled, and packed in a compact box. This is then delivered straight to your door, where you can take over unboxing the mattress. For a hands-off setup, some brands offer white glove delivery. With this premium service the mattress is delivered directly to your room by a team of expert, but often for an extra cost.

At a brick and mortar store they'll typically offer delivery and setup in the room of your choice as part of the purchasing package. Some stores will even get rid of your old mattress for you. As most in-store mattresses are delivered flat, this delivery process is incredibly helpful. 

Buying a mattress online vs in store: returns

Helix Midnight Luxe Mattress

(Image credit: Future)

Return policies vary from brand to brand when shopping online, but most brands do offer free returns. Often, the company will arrange for someone to pick up your bed, although in the worst cases, you will have to organize your own return. Some online brands might ask you to donate or dispose of the mattress yourself, which can create a lost of waste. 

Returns to store are typically hassle-free, with the store arranging for someone to visit your house and pick up your mattress. However, these returns can be expensive, with some brands adding on a high fee. 

Where should you buy your mattress?

Buy your mattress online if...

✅ You want a massive amount of choice: The most obvious benefit of shopping online is that you have access to an incredible range of mattresses, including specialist beds, which you can browse at your own convenience.

✅ You're on a tighter budget: Without the associated costs of a brick and mortar store, online mattress brands are able to keep prices down. Plus, the sheer range of beds online means you can find an option for pretty much any budget.

You want to sleep on the bed before you commit: While you can't test a mattress before you buy online, most mattresses in a box come with a sleep trial, allowing you to spend time getting to know the bed before you commit. 

Buy your mattress in store if...

✅ You want to get your hands on a mattress: Head along to a mattress store and you can experience the bed first hand, familiarizing yourself with the feel and support. This is particularly useful if you have absolutely no idea what you're looking for.

You want personalized attention: Mattress stores typically employ knowledgeable salespeople who can help you navigate your choices and find a bed that's right for your needs.

You want an easier delivery and return process: Most in-store mattresses are delivered to your room, and if there's a problem, the store will send along a team to pick your bed up. Plus, you can negotiate with the sales team to ensure the delivery is as convenient as possible.

Ruth Jones
Sleep staff Writer

Ruth Jones has recently joined the Tom's Guide team as a sleep staff writer, covering all things mattresses and sleep. Ruth previously worked as a sleep and mattress writer for our sister website TechRadar, and has a deep interest in sleep and how it affects our day to day wellbeing. Ruth is a self-confessed stomach sleeper with a penchant for medium-firm mattresses, and also loves a good eye mask for helping her to fall asleep easier at night.