January 2023

Page A13 january 2023 FUNERAL HOME & CEMETERY NEWS Se c t i on A Guided by contemporary e-commerce principals, inspired by changing attitudes about death and informed by their personal deathcare experiences, over the past 10 years a collection of innovative entrepreneurs has created a new category of digital deathcare services – direct-to-consumer cremation. This simple, transparent approach allows families to make arrangements online or by phone for less than the cost of the latest iPhone. It’s convenient, efficient and, in many cases, arrangements can be completed online in as little as five minutes. Type “direct cremation” into any online search engine and you’ll come up with a list of nearly a dozen companies advertising their services. Their prices and the way they deliver services vary, but all offer to transport and cremate decedents shortly after passing without embalming, viewing or visitation. Most also allow customers to prearrange similar cremation plans for some time in the future. While a more transient society, pandemic fall-out and ubiquitous access to digital tools have led a growing number of families to reject traditional funerals in favor of simple, more affordable options, direct cremation is not really “new.” The first direct cremation was conducted in the United Kingdom in March of 1885, when the coffin of Mrs. Jeanette Caroline Pickersgill was taken from her home in London’s West End to a local crematorium. What is new, however, is the ability of direct cremation providers to offer a modern e-commerce experience to families accustomed to ordering products and services online from the comfort of their homes with convenient, next-day delivery. Families are purchasing items online that they would have never thought of buying through digital channels five or ten years ago – everything from auto repair to engagement rings and now even funeral services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, funeral service providers were restricted from traditional inperson meetings and had to find new ways to make arrangements. This accelerated the move to digital service offerings and reshaped the funeral profession. Is this approach for everyone? Certainly not, but as a company founded with the goal of creating a modern funeral experience to meet changing consumer needs, Foundation Partners Group has embraced the idea of digital deathcare. We cemented our first partnership with a direct-to-consumer company, Tulip Cremation, in 2019. Today, Tulip is the nation’s largest online direct cremation provider, licensed to serve ten states with more on the way. In November 2022, we expanded our digital reach with the acquisition of Portland, OR based Solace Cremation. Solace was launched in 2019 by two former Nike executives whose personal deathcare experiences inspired them to apply their innovative, consumer experience-driven design expertise to the funeral industry. While Tulip and Solace are digital businesses, they still offer the human touch to families looking for a higher level of support. Well-trained and compassionate family care specialists are available to offer concierge-level support via phone, email and chat. One Tulip customer said, “Tulip was amazing to work with. No one wants to have to arrange services for a loved one. My sister passed away out of the area, and I didn’t know who to turn to. Tulip was not only patient with my questions, but they also followed up with me every step of the way and kept me informed of the process. I didn’t have to worry about anything. I was able to grieve and be with my family; not worrying about exorbitant costs or having to go back and forth to sign papers. Tulip sent my sister’s ashes to me with no stress of the how or when...When she arrived at my door, I received a beautifully packaged box with a handwritten card inside. It was beyond moving and very personal. No one thinks that they’re going to lose a loved one but to have Tulip express their heartfelt sorrow for my loss was just amazing.” A Solace customer from Beaverton, OR described her experience this way: “I found Solace on the Internet in the middle of the night when I realized the weeks, we thought we would have turned into a matter of days. I was attracted by the straightforward way Solace presented the information I needed to make a decision. Solace couldn’t have been more respectful of our family and our loss. Every contact, including email, text and, of course in person, was respectful and comforting. I felt very comforted knowing my husband was in their care.” Of course, the direct cremation route is just one way in which digital options have eased at-need and preneed end-of-life planning for today’s consumers. Foundation Partners also owns and operates a network of 250 funeral homes, cremation centers and cemeteries across 21 states. Each of these locations operates as a local business, staffed by many of the same familiar faces community members have known and trusted for years. Our local funeral home websites are designed to arm families with all the knowledge they need to begin the deathcare journey – whether they prefer to make arrangements virtually using online planning and purchasing tools or would like to meet with a funeral director in person, on the phone or via video conference. Our local funeral homes also can accommodate any desired form of final disposition, from cremation with or without ceremony to green burials and elaborate celebrations of life and remembrance. As deathcare preferences continue to shift to include more digital components, we’ll continue to conduct consumer research and expand our platform to provide every family with simpler, more engaging and personal experiences. By leveraging our existing cremation expertise and infrastructure, we can manage the entire continuum of care for loved ones entrusted to us. Lee Senderov is Chief Marketing and Digital Officer at Foundation Partners Group. A digital marketing veteran, she has more than 20 years’ experience in digital marketing, sales, business development and e-commerce in both public and private equity-backed companies. As a member of Foundation Partners’ senior leadership team, Lee is responsible for driving sales growth, advancing the company’s digital strategies and developing new e-commerce solutions. Contact your Messenger Sales Consultant to learn more or call 1-800-827-5151 www.messengerco.com/signature-service Honor a life in style with GALLERY SIGNATURE SERIES which feature a custom color scheme to match the loved one’s photograph. Signature SERVICE Promo Code: 9257 Proofs approved by 2:00 p.m. EST ship the same day. LETUSDESIGN, PRINT SHIP & • REGISTER BOOKS • SERVICE FOLDERS • FRAMED COLLAGES • CANDLES • REMEMBRANCE CARDS • OBITUARY CARDS • PRAYER CARDS • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS • BOOKMARKS • CASKET PANELS • WRAPPED CANVAS WOW Your Families With Stunning Stationery FULL TURN-KEY PERSONALIZATION How Digital Natives are Reimaging Deathcare By Lee Senderov Lee Senderov