MILWAUKEE (AP) — The world's largest retailer wants to keep its customers even after they die.
Wal-Mart has started selling caskets on its Web site at prices that undercut many funeral homes, long the major seller of caskets.
The move follows a similar one by discount rival Costco, which also sells caskets on its site.
Wal-Mart quietly put up about 15 caskets and dozens of urns on its Web site last week.
Prices range from $999 for models like “Dad Remembered” and “Mom Remembered” steel caskets to the mid-level $1,699 “Executive Privilege.” All are less than $2,000, except for the Sienna Bronze Casket, which sells for $3,199.
Caskets ship within 48 hours. Federal law requires funeral homes to accept third-party caskets. Returns are not accepted, the company says on its site, unless the product has been damaged during shipping.
The caskets come from Star Legacy Funeral Network, Inc., a company based in McHenry, Ill., that sells the same caskets for about the same price — some less — on its site, along with many others.
Star Legacy CEO Rick Obadiah said the response in the first week has been better than the company or Wal-Mart expected, though he declined to give specifics. A spokesman for Walmart.com also declined to release sales figures and downplayed the venture.
“Several online retailers offer this category on their sites,” spokesman Ravi Jariwala wrote in an e-mail. “We are simply conducting a limited beta test to understand customer response.”
But Obadiah said it is not simply a test. He said more than 200 Star Legacy products, including pet urns and memorial jewelry, and eventually about two dozen caskets, will be sold at walmart.com.