Review: Buying a Walmart Casket
Purchasing a Casket From Walmart
Ever since Walmart introduced caskets to its online sales catalog in 2009, the company has been surrounded by controversy. While Costco had been selling caskets since 2004, Walmart’s entry into the funeral casket distribution market had many wondering about the negative effect it would have on the funeral home industry and boutique or niche online casket retailers as CasketandCoffin.com.
Since the FTC had already permitted companies to sell caskets independently (and gave the customer a right to use a casket he or she purchased for their deceased) Walmart was in the clear, even in the face of individual state opposition, such as in Georgia, when they began.
Six years later, Walmart is still offering caskets at substantially lower prices than most funeral homes and competitive to niche online casket retailers who offer a wide range of cheap caskets to high-end caskets. Let’s review what’s available to you when Walmart sells caskets.
Advantage: Price and Convenience
The largest advantage Walmart has over the traditional funeral industry as the funeral home is price. While many decry Walmart’s practice of undercutting competitors, the funeral industry has largely been known for inflating prices– so much so, in fact, that the retailer is likely not offering any significant discount below the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
Funeral homes, on average, mark up the cost of a casket by 289%. In such an environment, Walmart has to do little more than offer the casket at the regular price to be comparatively seen as a bargain. And in fact, private coffin and boutique casket makers are now making caskets that are substantially cheaper than Walmart, such as CasketandCoffin.com who offers consumers a direct sales channel right from the warehouse to the consumer.
Another advantage Walmart has over the traditional funeral home is the level of convenience in purchasing a casket. Purchasing a casket is a disheartening process, a reminder of the impending burial of a loved one. Walmart selling caskets in store and over the internet takes away from that experience by disassociating the user from the physical approach involved in selecting a casket– simply select one, order it, and it goes straight to the funeral home. This advantage is often not considered in explaining why purchasing caskets online has become so popular to begin with.
Disadvantage: Harder to Know what You’re Getting
On the other hand, purchasing a Walmart casket ultimately means that the purchaser will not see the coffin until it arrives at the funeral home– which means it will be too late to make a change later. This isn’t so much as a concern as more consumers are buying caskets direct online, but what’s more important is the level of customer service and assurance of an overnight or 1 – 3 day delivery. A boutique online casket retailer who specializes in catering to this market will have the level of service and expectations on the other end down-packed, giving the consumer much greater sense of peace-of-mind.
Because of that lack of a physical point of reference and service-levels, online shoppers often refer to reviews. Unfortunately, this has largely been a mistake, as practical jokers would use the review sections to write jokes and ridiculously tasteless stories. In fact, this phenomenon had become so prevalent that Walmart eventually shut the comments down on the casket page. So even what could have been used to the customer’s advantage in this case was simply impossible to deliver.
Summary: Cost Savings and Increased Choice
Overall, the net result of Walmart’s casket sales has been largely positive for customers. While the retailer’s offerings are fairly similar to its competitors, Walmart isn’t in the business of providing funerals, but caskets. Five years after its predicted death, it survives still. Meanwhile, lower cost caskets by online casket retails as Walmart and CasketandCoffin.com are welcomed by grieving families all over the country. For many Americans looking to reduce their expenses related to deaths of families and loved ones, that’s good news enough.