|By Stewart Oldfield
|Peter Erceg is the founder of eziFunerals, which describes itself as the largest online provider of funeral planning services in Australia.
The eziFunerals platform, launched in 2017, allows customers to develop a funeral plan at no cost and then invites funeral directors in the relevant locality to provide an itemised quote to deliver that plan.
eziFunerals works on a subscription model and does not charge sales commissions from funeral homes. It currently has just under 30 premium members, who are independent funeral directors around the country.
There are about 1,000 funeral homes in Australia.
Mr Erceg said traffic through the eziFunerals site was growing. Independent funeral home directors were enjoying strong revenue growth and did not appear to have been impacted by the pull forward of funerals by the 2017 flu season cited by listed players InvoCare (IVC) and Propel (PFP).
In the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 160,909 deaths registered in Australia in 2017 – an increase of around 2 per cent on the previous year.
He said some of the modern independent funeral directors that he worked with had enjoyed 10 per cent growth in volumes last financial year.
“Consumers are becoming more informed through sites like eziFunerals and are more aware of which funeral brands are owned by which public listed companies.”
He said his platform is currently in an expansion phase to assist with the provision of funeral finance, online wills and end-of-life planning.
He expected the price of funerals in Australia to fall.
“It’s no different to any other financial transaction. The baby boomers are more inclined to shop online, research the product they are purchasing, and look for the best value at the best price,” he said.
Mr Erceg described Invocare as the “elephant” of the funeral care industry and Propel as the industry’s “gazelle”.
But he believed both had overpaid for recent acquisitions.
“I don’t think they are going to get return on investment because those companies are going to suffer from trend of consumer purchasing and a growing number of smaller independents entering the market,” he said.
Prior to Christmas Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority launched an investigation into the country’s £2bn-a-year funerals market, after accusations of price gouging and exploitation of the vulnerable.
Mr Erceg said such an inquiry by the ACCC of the Australian market would be warranted given the likelihood of similar practices.
This article has been reproduced and was published in Field Research [Insights From Industry] on Tuesday 28th Jan, 2019.
eziFunerals 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. eziFunerals helps consumers plan a funeral, get quotes and select the right funeral director anywhere, anytime.