Funeral Innovations has been asked this question quite a bit lately, so we decided to explore this question in depth. In the online world we live in today, almost everyone learns, shops and compares information and products online. We know it’s true when we read statistics such as, “96% of Americans with internet access have made an online purchase in their life, 80% in the past month alone,” as well as “overall e-commerce is growing 23% year-over-year in the United States.” (source)

So with that in mind, why do only 27% of Funeral Homes publish their prices according to the Funeral Consumers Alliance 2018 report? And even fewer Funeral Homes offer any online arranging/shopping on their websites? We know that online shopping options are critical for cremation companies, and that their market share is growing – so why is the Funeral Home market so slow to modernize? A lot of factors are at work here including laws, lack of education in the consumers, fear of information being taken out of context, and the need for Funeral Homes to convey the quality of options and facilities in person and with their personal touch.

All other industries have evolved with online options and e-commerce… so why not the death-care industry? Laws regarding written and telephone itemized pricing requirements for funeral homes set the stage for what is common practice today. These laws were established in 1984… before the internet was a thing… These laws were put into place to protect consumers because the majority of funeral home clientele were first-time buyers, were often in distress from grief, and the relative expense was high. In addition to the consumer protection aspect of the law, the topic of planning for death is and was often avoided and considered taboo, so the consumers often had little to no experience with what to expect. The law does not however, prohibit putting pricing on websites, or enabling e-communication or e-commerce type activities for Funeral Homes and the Death-Care industry. 

At Funeral Innovations we took a look at the motivations of our website clients that list prices, have online arrangers and even just simply allow questions via email, rather than only in-person or on the phone. A major motivator for our clients is to create transparency with the public and to open up any means of communication possible. By being transparent with pricing options the community feels more trust in that Funeral Home. In addition to this, people fear a high-pressure sales environments. This perceived fear, whether true or false in reality can sway them to choose one death-care firm over the other — simply because one posts their prices or facilitates online communication and the other does not. The old adage by J.P. Morgan “If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it” can motivate people to choose the safer option, the firm with pricing listed, or more passive ways of collecting information so they don’t get themselves in a situation.  

Another motivation for our clients with online arranging capability is simply it is what people are used to. As the Baby Boomers leave this world over the next few decades it will continue to be more GenX and Millennials responsible for planning and buying funeral services. This generation expects to be able to search for specifics, pricing, reviews, ask questions, view images and to buy when they are online for all products and services. This expectation doesn’t go away when it comes to funerals. And the result? Well it may just be that Funeral Homes sell more services directly, with less time and overhead required. (source)

In conclusion; at Funeral Innovations we promote and enable a hybrid approach for our clients. The main benefit of this is the creation of a positive user experience regardless of their preferred method of communication. We not only build online arranging capabilities, but we build and market websites and campaigns that educate and connect with our clients’ local communities. The result is building valuable trust over time with our clients’ customers. For our death-care clients, we know that whether their community finds, shops, compares and pays from the convenience of their home via website, in-person or both; that the firm will be represented online in a way that conveys the quality and care that they deliver through their services and facilities. When done right, a Funeral Home does not sacrifice their personal touch and outstanding service, they just enhance it with more options. The combination of these multi-goal approaches ensure that no matter who is planning the end-of-life services, our clients will be more likely to be chosen.