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Ecommerce Takes The Hassle Out Of Death

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Saturday December 17, 2011 )

On a couple of occasions I’ve decided to pre-arrange disposal of my body in preparation for when the grim reaper comes a-knockin’, but organising a bargain basement cremation entirely online has been impossible; so I’ve given up in each instance.

However, it looks like the funeral industry is finally starting to get it right – in the USA anyway – in part by leveraging the power of ecommerce.

While death is a Very Big Deal to many people; to some of us, getting our affairs in order in relation to our demise is more of an irritation and inconvenience. I’m one of those people.

I do not care what happens to my body when I die. Assuming I have no organs left worth harvesting, I’d be quite happy to know it was to be unceremoniously dumped on my property for critters of the area to deal with. This isn’t legal, and for good reason. I’m also sure my neighbors wouldn’t be too thrilled by the prospect of finding bits of me scattered on their properties, dragged there by animals. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to find bits of them on my patch.

Given all the rules and regulations of corpse disposal, unless I arrange something now, I’m going to continue to be a pain in the ass to others even when I’m dead. I would like to avoid creating extra stress or putting a dampener on the party.

I started looking at various funeral director sites in Australia a while back, hoping to quickly grab a no-frills, pre-paid plan for cremation. All the sites involve a bunch of paperwork, phone calls and visits from funeral directors where no doubt some serious upselling would occur.

I don’t use a satin pillow in life and I certainly won’t need one in death. I don’t need a box. A headstone for me would be a waste of good granite.

I’m more than happy with the thought of my remains being stuffed into a trash bag and then BBQ’ed. The ash can be thrown out with tomorrow’s trash for all I could care.

Of course, marketing a plan that you could buy online like this would only appeal to a very niche market and probably not go down too well with the general public who might incorrectly see it as an indicator of the funeral director’s attitude.

However, it looks like a mob called SmartCremation in the USA have understood some people are just too busy, too strapped for cash or just don’t care for organizing even a reasonably simple casket-based funeral.

For under $1,800 (at the time of writing) and 5 minutes of your time you can buy a pre-paid cremation plan online that is a little more up-market than my bare bones (excuse the pun) example; but without much of the waste and expense that accompanies a traditional funeral.

For the $1,800, no matter where in the world you decide to expire, your remains will be shipped, er, transported to a crematorium and processed. The ash will then be put into a wooden box and released to your family or scattered at sea.

The legals are included in the cost and there is also a cheaper plan on offer, but you’ll need to ensure you kick the bucket reasonably close to home as extra transport costs will apply. Darned shipping costs follow us into death too :). A payment plan is also available for both options.

It’s a shame these plans are only available to folks in a few U.S. states at the moment because if they had a service in Australia, I would have whacked my money down already.

Death is a huge and complex industry, it only makes sense that everyone could benefit if it were more ecommerce enabled.

So Aussie funeral directors – here’s an opportunity. I’m sure I’m not the only person in our country who would be interested in service like SmartCremation offers. Email me if you knock together a plan like theirs; along with your “buy now” link :)

I’ll be a dream customer and the only time we’ll need to meet is when you’re stoking the fire.


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