3 mins

Calling all retailers: How to reach millions more customers in the UK

Did you know that, on average, approximately 20% of all customer data decays each year? And that each year it is left untouched, it costs more and more to repair. And not only this, but 88% of consumers state they have provided incorrect details when creating an online account.

These are worrying statistics for retailers who need clean, valid data in their databases if they want to a) communicate effectively with customers, b) reduce the amount of money they spend fixing failed deliveries and c) keep customers happy and loyal.

Is my dataset enough?

For the past 30 years, Royal Mail's Postcode Address File (PAF®) has been the go-to reference data set for address data capture. However, while PAF® is a substantial and regularly updated file of 29.7m records, retailers can still do more to ensure they don't miss out on essential communication with customers.

For example, what about the millions of new build or multiple residency properties across the UK that you may not have in your database right now. Of course, PAF® will eventually include them, but this can sometimes take up to a year, meaning some of your address data may be classed as unmatched. This can lead to dissatisfied customers who are left waiting to receive a package that isn't going to arrive on time to them.

Multiple residency

If your customer lives in a block of flats, they may have their own private home with their own flat number, but their private flat number may not be recognised. Instead, just the main property number is known to PAF®. This means that if your customer orders a new pair of sunglasses online, when they go to fill in their address details, they are going to experience a stressful user experience as it will, undoubtedly, take them longer to complete their data. They will, first of all, not be able to find their flat number in the auto-suggested options, then they will have to fill in their address manually, or they will risk selecting the auto-suggested address that doesn't include their flat number and potentially not receive their item. After all, unless he knows all of the occupants, which flat does the postal worker leave it with?

New builds

And what about that customer who has recently moved into a new build that's just 4 months old, and she's buying some new bathroom shelves, but when she goes to enter her address details....you guessed it, her flat isn't there. She already lives there, so she inevitably gets frustrated that you haven't auto-suggested it.

How can I solve this?

One thing retailers can do to fill in the gaps is to use the UK Address File (UKAF), which contains 33 million properties - that's an additional 3 million active or soon to be active properties that are not included on PAF®. That means you have the potential to boost the number of valid addresses in your database by 10%.

With the average cart abandonment rate at over 69%, and the total cost of failed deliveries at £183,132 per year for UK retailers, it is essential to provide shoppers with the best possible user experience in order to keep them flowing through the checkout. Then, when their address has been auto-suggested and completed, the package can go out for delivery with fewer issues and has a much greater chance of arriving with the right customer, first time. 


Not only does this leave you with happy customers who are more likely to return to your site, but also ensures that you have only clean, accurate and up-to-date data in your system –whether your customers have been in the same property for years, have just moved in or are not even living there yet.

Learn more about the UK Address File and how it can benefit your retail business.