Finance Your Budget Costco’s bizarre cradle-to-grave strategy

Costco’s bizarre cradle-to-grave strategy

Bulk retailer Costco is moving further and further into the Australian market. Photo: Costco
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Cut-price coffins are not on everyone’s weekly shopping list, but discount retailer Costco is hoping its members will be lining up for its new range of on-demand caskets.

At least that’s the plan and, as bizarre as it sounds, coffins make perfect sense for a one-stop-shop organisation that sells something for just about every stage of life, from birth to death.

Both life and death are costly, and Costco wants to cover off all bases with low-cost offerings.

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Was that coffee, or coffin?

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Customers can order a coffin and have one in about two days.

Fortunately Costco sells both, but they’re in different parts of the store.

Costco has partnered with Sydney-based coffin makers Scientia to offer 14 different coffin and casket styles, which can be ordered by customers in-store.

Ranging in price from $360 to $3800, the funeral products have a two-day turnaround and either delivered straight to the customer or a nominated funeral parlour. The retailer is not adding urns at this stage.

“We appreciate that times are changing and as consumers become smarter buyers, Australian families will want to look for ways to make funeral arrangements in a non-traditional way,” Costco general manager, Patrick Noone, said.

Scientia chief executive Isaac Leung added: “I think people will be dying to get them. With the rising cost of death, this is a different option for cost-conscious shoppers.”

Breakfast at Costco

It doesn’t have quite the same ring as Tiffany’s, but Costco has plenty of diamond dazzlers.

In fact, wedding rings worth tens of thousands of dollars are on sale in Costco outlets, not far from the fresh veggies and meats sections.

When Costco opened its Moorabbin outlet in Melbourne last November, the company’s jewellery section included a 13.72 carat yellow diamond ring set in platinum with a price tag of $849,999.99.

For those so inclined, one can pick up some celery and Wagyu beef and propose on the way to the check-out.

What’s that, you say?

Close up of senior Hispanic man’s hearing aid
Even hearing aids can be found under Costco’s oversized roof. Photo: Getty

One of the newer product offerings at Costco is hearing aids, and the retailer is hoping its hard-of-hearing customers will recognise the huge cost savings it’s offering.

“We’re selling high-quality hearing aids at a significant discount to what’s out there in the market,” Mr Noone said. “Our range can save people thousands of dollars.”

The retailer also provides free hearing tests by a qualified audiologist, and a number of different hearing aid styles.

Vehicles for land and sea

The group ranks as one of the largest automotive selling groups in the United States, and has a separate division that has partnerships with more than 3000 dealerships across the US.

In Australia, Costco customers can buy car batteries, products and fuel at the company’s bowsers, but cars are off the menu here.

Costco Australia has held car promotions in the past, but it’s not a regular feature.

“On the other roadshows, there is not too much information to share, but we have offered Mitsubishi cars and motor boats in the past as special roadshows for a short period of time (usually about two weeks) in selected warehouses,” a company spokesperson confirmed.

Blinds, mattresses and electronics

Rival retailer Aldi has occasional lines of televisions, electronics and whitegoods, but Costco has them as part of its regular line-up.

It also sells a range of window furnishings at kiosks within its outlets, and for those customers needing a lie down, Costco has a range of mattresses.

Can I buy a house at Costco?

No, not yet anyway. Costco in the US has a large financial services business offering everything from mortgages, general, health and life insurances, identity protection and even services for businesses.

That’s not the case in Australia, but it may be on the agenda further down the track.

“We’re just a baby here in Australia but we are growing and will continue to offer more services as we expand our footprint in the country,” a Costco spokesperson said.

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