A Western Australian digital entrepreneur is on the verge of digitally disrupting the business of one of the ASX’s most reliable and consistent performers of recent years with a world first integrated funeral planning and bidding online platform.
Invocare (ASX: IVC) has a market cap of around $1.48B; its share price has climbed significantly over the last five years and it’s increased its dividend every year since 2005. It has many brands including White Lady, Guardian and Simplicity Funerals. To many pundits, it’s an infallible defensive stock with 33% market share, multiple brands across multiple price-points and a market (i.e. death rate) that is largely independent of economic cycles or government policy; indeed the ABS projects an increasing death rate through to 2034.
Its status within the funeral industry is undisputed – its 33% market share is even larger in Peter Erceg’s home town of Perth where some experts believe it is beyond 40%.
However it was this market size and power, largely obtained through strategic acquisition, that gave Mr Erceg the idea of a consumer focused digital disruption site which excludes Invocare and only allows for membership from independents.
“The ACCC has repeatedly let Invocare’s aggressive growth from acquisition through to the keeper,” Mr Erceg said
“My view is that if the regulators won’t stop the funeral market becoming increasingly oligopolistic, and the power going to a supplier instead of the consumer, then I will,” he said.
“eziFunerals is about choice – the consumer logs their request online and specifies in detail the options they want in a funeral. This request goes out to our (independent) member funeral homes who can opt to quote line-by-line to specified requirements within 24 hours. The consumer and respondents see the transparent quotes come back in and before the 12-hour mark can sharpen their pencil and re-quote.”
Mr Erceg said that whilst he originally considered eziFunerals as being open to all funeral homes including Invocare, he decided that the independents needed a way to get back into the frame.
“This levels the playing field and puts the consumer back in the pilot’s seat in what is in effect an auction for their business by the independent funeral providers,” he said.
The eziFunerals system allows the consumer to request quotes to their specification for a fee of $9.95. The respondents’ quotes are easily comparable with a transparent, line-by-line comparison of variables such as:
The type and style of funeral service
Preparation of the body and viewing arrangements
Burial or cremation
The specific cemetery or crematorium
Type of coffin or casket
Minister or Celebrant
Memorial book and memorial cards
Death notices, flowers, mourning vehicles etc, and
Special features like a poem or piece of music.
“You may want a horse-drawn carriage or maybe a heavy metal band. A direct cremation or a huge traditional Italian funeral with the works; this system allows for all independents to quote with full transparency,” Mr Erceg said.
“…If it all goes to plan and Invocare’s profits “flat-line” then maybe there will be some market investors wishing me my own funeral!”
eziFunerals, www.eziFunerals.com.au , is set to launch in late February across all Australian capital cities. Equity opportunities are available.
eziFunerals is the world’s first online funeral planning and bidding platform that supports individuals and families cope with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company, and are not a subsidiary of any other corporation. We are not part of any other funeral company. Founded by consumers frustrated by how difficult it was to get independent information, eziFunerals supports consumers plan a funeral, compare prices and select the right funeral director anywhere, anytime.