6 More Myths About Funeral eCommerce Tools
Online selling, or eCommerce, has been on the rise for the last decade, especially during the 2020 pandemic and beyond. Offering your goods and services in person and online is by and large the most effective way to engage with consumers in 2023. In the funeral space, this looks like promoting online prearrangements.
The problem is that most funeral homes don’t have an effective strategy to reach preneed families online. The most they offer is a preplanning questionnaire form on their website or an interest survey to gauge how a family needs help. While those methods are better than nothing, research shows that a growing number of families want to start the actual planning process online. They want to select merchandise and service options, and some of them even wanting to fully pay for their plans online, too.
In fact, in a recent funeral market survey our team conducted with McKee Wallwork + Co. (MW+C), 45% of respondents said they would likely prearrange and prepay for their funeral in the future
Consumers are saying they want this option, but most funeral directors have no idea what tools are out there to help them serve families in this way. Not to mention, eCommerce tools (or online shopping/preplanning) in the funeral profession is still a fairly new concept, and there are a lot of misconceptions about how these tools work. We’re here to break down the biggest myths about them.
It turns out there are more than 3 myths to debunk. Below are 6 more misconceptions about online planning tools that are preventing funeral homes from growing their preneed business.
Myth #1 – An eCommerce tool will replace the funeral director.
At first glance, this may seem more fact than fiction. If you have a tool that allows families to engage with you online (rather than in person), people will stop walking into your funeral home with questions or calling you, right?
Here’s the truth: families find value in your expertise and support, and that’s especially true during the preplanning process. According to Eric Layer’s book, The Right Way of Death, funeral directors offer families the most value during the preplanning and aftercare stages.
An eCommerce tool should never replace you. It should enable you to do your job even better by:
✔️ Improving communication with families
✔️ Highlighting the value of a funeral
✔️ Getting preneed leads and contracts
✔️ Keeping you in the loop
✔️ Increasing your preneed volume
The rest – like providing care that only you can – is up to you.
Myth #2 – eCommerce tools are for online shoppers only.
A myth that our industry has come to believe is that consumers are strictly in-person or online shoppers. Here’s why that’s not the case:
Let’s say you want to purchase a new TV. You start your search online to find the TV with the specifications you’re looking for. Before you click “add to cart,” you decide you want to see the quality for yourself. You go into the store where you are able to talk to a sales representative who shows you the TV and answers all your questions. You’re now feeling good about purchasing.
As you check out, the sales representative asks, “Would you like to carry it out or have it shipped?”
You realize that the 80” TV won’t fit into your sedan, so you tell the sales rep that you would like to have it shipped. He then takes your email address where you receive an email with a tracking notification.
This scenario is a common one: we see a blended experience of online and in-person interactions. You started the process online (research), then went into the store to talk to someone in person (sales representative), and then finished online again (shipment tracker).
Consumers have begun to expect blended options from all businesses. This means your eCommerce tool needs to be set up like this:
Allow the family to start the preplanning process online,
Allow them to finish completely online
Allow your staff to pick up with the plan right where the family left off if they want to finish in person.
Myth #3 – eCommerce tools are for price shoppers only.
While there are price shoppers in every industry, most families simply want the convenience of researching their funeral options online without calling anyone. They might start their search at cremation, but they may be open to other alternatives if they understand the value.
They may also be under the impression that if a funeral home doesn’t post their prices, it means the plans are unaffordable. With our eCommerce tool, we set up many plans for funeral homes. From there, our recommendation engine shows families three plans (good, better, best) based on how that consumer answered questions. The transparent pricing allows families to choose the best plan for them.
Not all online shoppers want a direct cremation, so they shouldn’t have to settle for one. Shoppers should be able to start planning, browse your offerings, and even pay for their plan online. You don’t want them to miss out on planning with your funeral home, do you?
Myth #4 – An eCommerce tool isn’t necessary if I have a preneed representative.
Some funeral homes don’t think they need an online preplanning tool (like Arrangement Guide) because they have a preneed representative to connect with families. But it can actually help your salesperson increase your preneed sales volume.
Your salesperson can get qualified preneed leads without any extra effort. Since the tool can be found on your website, the leads essentially come to you so long as you have a digital marketing strategy (see next myth).
Your salesperson has more than one way to close a sale: in person or online. Remember myth #2 about families wanting this blended experience? Your preneed rep will appreciate the flexibility, too.
The tool helps promote burial options, not just direct cremations. When your eCommerce tool educates families about the value of a funeral, your preneed rep can focus more on helping your families through the planning process.
Fresh leads + new ways to preplan online + a talented salesperson = more volume for you.
Myth #5 – An eCommerce tool requires an overhaul of my digital marketing strategy.
Promoting your eCommerce tool should be part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Through Facebook and Google ads, your consumers can easily discover that you provide online preplanning options. Think of it this way: only putting a link to your eCommerce tool on your website is like having a salesperson who is a great “closer” but does no prospecting or marketing. It’s only when you add the prospecting and marketing that you truly start seeing your return on investment.
Also, don’t make the mistake of ceasing promotion after the initial launch. You may make a big splash in your community by announcing on Facebook that your funeral home now offers online prearrangements. But what about after the launch? You will want to continue to reach out to potential customers on an ongoing basis.
Myth #6 – An eCommerce tool requires a lot of work to maintain.
Many people set up a “side hustle” (like investing or online selling) as a passive income stream in top of their 9-5. It takes a bit of work up front but requires little to no ongoing effort when it’s running. Your eCommerce tool can be a way to generate leads and contracts online without much extra leg work.
With minimal effort, you can get this income stream up and running without taking time away from your at-need families. From there, all you have to do is promote this option to your community and start getting preneed leads and contracts. Your preneed rep (or program manager) can follow up with the leads, and you can benefit from a tool that requires little maintenance.
Reach families with Arrangement Guide, the eCommerce tool with it all.
Consumers are going to plan ahead online. Why not give them every opportunity to plan with you instead of your competitors?
Arrangement Guide is a simple, cost-efficient, and convenient online planning tool for the families you serve. They deserve the best, and so do you.
To learn more about the importance of having an eCommerce strategy as a funeral home in today’s marketplace, download this eBook on Serving Today’s Families Online. You’ll discover what to look for in your funeral home’s eCommerce tool and how to implement it successfully.