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Benefits of address verification

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To this day we still find it amazing just how many people can't type their own address. There are the usual errors you'd expect - C01 instead of CO1 for instance, or CB% instead CB5 - but they get more ridiculous. E55EX is one of the best postcodes we've seen, though we get numerous orders without a postcode and almost as many with a clearly foreign address but with the country reading United Kingdom.

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Paying to check your customers addresses might seem like a waste of money - after all, don't customers know their own address? - however around 14% of all addresses we process are not entered correctly. In fact, the primary reason major online stores utilise an 'enter your postcode to find your address' tool, isn't convenience for the customer, but certainty that the address is valid.

The benefits of address verification should be obvious, but it breaks down in to two main categories:

  • Less items are undeliverable and thus returned to sender, usually resulting in loss of the sale
  • More items are delivered on time, as they'll go straight through an automated sort.

While many addresses might look right to the human eye, if the address doesn't validate you can be confident it won't automatically sort - thus creating delays, or even mis-routes. In the case of the wrong country being entered, the parcel might go to 2 or even 3 different countries before someone manages to route it correctly.

So why don't companies check as standard?

For many smaller online stores the cost of setting up an address verification service at checkout can be large. Pay as you go services are expensive, buying a license to the dataset is usually prohibitive and any service in between usually requires a minimum of 100,000 checks a year.

For order processed from 3rd party platforms, such as eBay, Amazon and Play, address verification is not implemented - presumably because these channels cannot justify the cost (albeit small per order). This poses as a real problem for retailers, especially since the majority of multi-channel listing packages - such as ChannelAdvisor and Channel Grabber - don't offer this as a feature.

February 27th, 2013 by Hannah Newman

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