Incredible Product Innovation in the Funeral Industry

Written by Director, Gareth Coles:

You may have noticed over the last couple of weeks that we’ve been sharing some links to fascinating product innovations in the funeral industry. In this summary, I’ve tried to find examples of really cutting edge ‘out-there’ products (most of which come with a hefty price tag) whilst also suggesting some more affordable alternatives.The list might not appeal to everyone in Cardiff, but it goes to show that the funeral industry continues to adapt and innovate to keep abreast of the changing times and offer people choices. There will, of course, always be a prominent place for traditional funerals and services – but here at Coles, we make it our mission to tailor the funerals we plan so that they are the perfect reflection of the life of your loved one. The only way we can honour this promise is to make sure we know exactly what’s available on the market for our customers, in all of these categories…

Love it or hate it – technology has transformed the way we communicate, and funeral facilities are using the latest advances to help families personalise the ceremonies/services they plan:

  • Audio Visual Tributes – use light, imagery and music (or no music can be especially poignant) to share the sights and sounds that mattered most to your loved one.
  • Live Streaming – services can now be web-cast and recorded so that family, friends and colleagues can join in wherever they are in the world.
  • Online Memorials – log in any time day or night to read the obituary, share your special memories, commemorate your loved one, and/or make a charitable donation.

Communication before the ceremony has also changed over the years – phone calls between 9 and 5 to make funeral arrangements are simply a thing of the past, which is why Coles is happy to communicate via email, text, Whatsapp, social media – whatever is most convenient to you.


Back in the late 1800s, cremation was a pioneering technology. These days, disposal innovation concentrates on ways to reduce the environmental impact of cremation and burial, including:

  • Alkaline hydrolysis (or flameless cremation) – a process of heating the body in a carefully measured alkaline solution to dissolve all but the bones which can then be turned into ash.
  • Cryogenic freezing – involves crystalising the body with liquid nitrogen then disintegrating it into particles which are processed to become nutrient-rich soil.
  • Organic Burial or ‘recomposition’ –options include a burial suit or site containing organic/non-toxic additions like sodium or mushrooms to accelerate and purify decomposition.

Here in Cardiff, we’ve seen a growing interest in biodegradable urns and pods – whereby the body’s nutrients nurtures a tree seed or sapling which can then be planted at a cemetery.


Gone are the days when a black hearse or limousine is your only option for transporting the body and families to the service as funeral fleets now come in a range of colours. But there’s no law that states a coffin must be conveyed in a hearse – so your last adventure could be in real style:

  • Land Rovers and VW Campers – increasingly used as an alternative and fitting tribute to people who loved to drive these favourite models.
  • Red double decker buses, classic cars, or motorbikes with a side car hearse – other great alternatives for motor and bike enthusiasts.
  • Horse Drawn carriages and bicycles – these eco-friendly options are particularly popular with those planning a green funeral .

Direct Transfers are an increasingly sought-after method of transport (made famous by David Bowie) whereby the body is taken into our care and onto the crematorium, removing the need for a funeral fleet/procession altogether.


Memorial gravestones (usually composite, granite or marble) at a crematorium or burial site are ever popular, but every year there are new and innovative alternatives on the market, made out of interesting new materials:

  • Digital Tombstones – weather and vandal proof, these headstones comprise an encased touchscreen that shows photographs, videos and digital media of the deceased for a more interactive graveside experience.
  • Pebble Memorials – perfect for a woodland or natural burial site or you could locate it at a favourite beauty spot, pebble memorials are handcrafted from natural stone to blend into the landscape.
  • Memory Trees – either living, or a metal/wooden sculpture that can be featured in a woodland or garden, these trees are the perfect place to hang framed memories of your loved one.

We believe there is no right or wrong way to remember and memorialise your loved one; if you have an idea that would be poignant for your family, give us a call to discuss and we’ll do our very best to source you a suitable supplier and product.

In my next blog, I’ll be looking at creative, innovative ways to use your loved ones remains and remember them in very special ways! So stay tuned…