It’s no secret that government and watchdog groups are scrutinizing the rising costs of funerals. In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that the cost of funeral services and caskets in particular had risen at nearly double the rate of other commodities in the previous 30 years. The Federal Trade Commission has also published a consumer guide for “Shopping for Funeral Services” to save money. Touting “The FTC Funeral Rule,” which states you should not have to pay for anything you don’t want or need, the guide encourages comparison shopping and consulting non-funeral home sources for caskets, urns, and other items.In response to this increased demand, merchants are producing a wider variety of funeral goods at competitive prices. Most of these products are available on Amazon, the world’s largest online marketplace — and available for quick shipping. Here are ten things we found on Amazon that families could buy on their own instead of purchasing from you:
Titan Bronze Casket $999.60 This model, the Orion, is constructed of 20-gauge steel with fixed bar handles, full rubber gaskets, and crepe interior. It comes in 12 different colors, fits a standard vault, and is made in the USA. Titan also offers an oversized model (the Atlas) for $1,110.24, plus versions for veterans and ladies. With 4.7 out of 5 stars and 27 reviews, this could be an affordable option compared to showroom models at six-to-ten-times the price.
Flag Funeral Urn $119.00 Handcrafted in India for Liliane Memorials, this urn has garnered 51 reviews and 4.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon. The patriotic design in “deep enamel colors” covers a 100% brass core. The product description states the urn’s “large size fits adult remains up to 200 pounds,” although one reviewer wrote that hers holds the ashes of both of her parents.
Funeral Guest Book $19.95 This 9” x 7” hardbound book includes space for details about the deceased and the funeral services as well as more than 100 pages for guest registration. It comes in three basic colors. One of the 72 customers who purchased the book wrote: “It is so easy to just say yes to the funeral home handling everything. But if you can stop and catch your breath, you can order on your [own] and save hundreds of dollars.” This is the top-rated funeral guest book on Amazon with 4.9 out of 5 stars.
Sympathy Acknowledgment Cards $29.95 This set of 50 thank-you cards comes with envelopes and a simple, elegant design. Reviewers, who all gave these cards 5 stars, commented on the high quality card stock.
Guardian Urn Vault $169.99 Although full-size coffin vaults aren’t yet available on Amazon (for now, anyway), consumers can purchase a wide range of vaults to protect buried urns. The Guardian Urn Vault is “constructed from superior grade lightweight plastic and features tongue and groove construction.” Forty-one reviewers gave this vault 4.6 stars out of 5. The review that was voted “most helpful” was written by a funeral home employee. He wrote, “I work at a funeral home and even with my inside discount this item beats their price by a mile — I saved $600.”
Special Memory Cards $11.99 For families who want to gather special memories of their loved ones from mourners, this set of 4” x 6” cards does the trick on the cheap. There are several versions of memory cards, but this set of 60 has the distinction of being “Amazon’s Choice,” despite having a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.
Biodegradable Remembrance Balloons $12.95 As funeral services continue to evolve into celebrations rather than somber occasions, the practice of releasing memorial balloons is becoming more common. This set of 30 earned 4.8 out of 5 stars in six reviews for their eco-friendly composition and the pre-printed message of remembrance.
Organic Biodegradable Willow Casket $1299.00 More families are requesting “green” funerals with burial in a biodegradable container with no embalming or vault. In 2018, The New York Times reported that 52 percent of Americans would consider going green when their time comes. For those folks, caskets like this willow basket from Funeral Direct are great options. This model is “crafted by hand in rural cottage environments” and holds up to 350 pounds. No reviews were available at this writing.
EcoUrn Biodegradable Cremation Urn $39.95 Speaking of eco-friendly funerals, this oversized envelope is a good choice for in-ground or water burials of cremains. This version is made from recycled materials and is designed to “float for approximately five minutes before descending gracefully” and eventually biodegrading naturally in water. This smaller size earned 4.4 out of 5 stars, although many of the seven reviewers disclosed that it only holds a portion of an adult’s ashes.
Cemetery Marker – Engraving Included $199.00 If your funeral home has added monuments to your offerings as an additional revenue stream, you’ll hate this item. The five reviewers gave this simple 16” x 8” x 3” gray granite marker 5 out of 5 stars, and raved about the customer service they received. Most reported receiving their engraved marker within two weeks, as well. This seems to be a fairly exhaustive list of Amazon’s funeral wares, although there are multiple providers for several items, especially caskets and urns. Luckily, there’s no need for panic; your professional services are still in demand. No one is offering funeral, embalming, or burial services on Amazon. Yet.