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Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

The nation’s first cyber undertaker opened its doors today. By logging on to www.funeralshop.co.uk, customers can arrange an entire funeral online, including the headstone, coffin and flowers. The service is being offered by United Norwest Co-op, a supermarket giant in the Midlands and North West. As well as selling "buy now die later" online pre-burial packages, currently on the market from other companies, users can also choose a funeral after the death of a loved one - from the comfort of their armchair. Products cater for all purses – from the Last Supper Casket priced at £2,500, which includes a tree being planted for a loved one, to the more cost-conscious £250 Irlam oak Coffin. Also on offer are "essentials for the day" – i.e. a black tie or his and hers black gloves. And the bereaved can buy pet burials -- with a wide variety of kennel and animal-shaped caskets to choose from. After placing their order online, customers are referred to the nearest funeral branch to complete the final details. Phil Lane, marketing manager at United Norwest Co-operatives, outlined further plans for the site. "Customers can’t actually write the headstone online yet, but we are developing it. Soon they will be able to choose the type and shape of headstone, as well as its inscription," he said. According to Lane, the company sold its first complete funeral within an hour of going live this morning. It currently offers funerals in the North Midlands and North West of England, but plans to expand its services to the rest of the country.®

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