The Postal Service is the second largest civilian employer in the United States and describes itself as an “engine of economic growth for the marketing and communication needs of America’s companies.”
If you send or receive mail in the United States, you likely engage with the USPS’s expansive infrastructure, including a highly methodical address system.
The USPS maintains one of the most comprehensive and expedient mail delivery networks in the world.
The Agency has an annual operating revenue of more than $71B and delivers 48 percent of the world’s mail. It is self-funded through revenues from stamps and other service fees rather than tax dollars.
The USPS is a role model for the rest of the world and ranks #7 on a global list of the world’s highest performing postal services based on four factors: reliability, reach, relevance, and resilience. The country is one of the top funders of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), which is a United Nations specialized agency for global collaboration in the postal sector.
The USPS provides a gateway for the global commercial sector to reach American customers.
The backbone of the USPS is its integrated supply chain, which partners with private companies to deliver mail to 160M+ delivery addresses, which includes 46M rural addresses. Throughout rural America, the USPS is often the only delivery option available. The United States is one of only 12 percent of countries that have delivery point verification (DVP) data, which corresponds to a house or apartment.
Did you know...
Every year, post offices around the United States receive thousands of letters to Santa from American kids. Some of these children ask for toys. Others ask for basic necessities — or help for themselves and loved ones.
For the last 100 years, the USPS has maintained a program called Operation Santa where postal employees respond to these letters. Some post offices even purchase gifts for the children.
USPS customers, everyday Americans, can go online and adopt letters to help a child or family have a happy holiday when they otherwise may not.
USPS letter-writers take part in an apprenticeship program to receive training before they become official “Santas.” You can read more about the program here
The USPS is the nation’s preferred option for last-mile delivery, which is the practice of moving goods from a transit hub to a final destination such as a residence. This capability is essential for expedited and same-day delivery services. Last mile delivery can sometimes represent 25% of shipping costs due to the complexity of delivering packages to some locations.
Every component of a USPS address is important for communicating delivery information. Senders and recipients of mail can reduce strain on the Postal Service, which is already under extreme financial strain, by ensuring that information is well-formatted and correct.
According to the USPS official website, “the delivery address is the most important information on your mail piece.”
The United States Postal Service relies on automated mail processing machines to read addresses from the bottom up. These systems first look for a city, state, and ZIP code that corresponds to a specific region within a geography. Extra information below the delivery address line may confuse the machine.
There are six components that comprise a USPS address:
In the United States, the term for a postal code is ZIP code. The role of the ZIP code is to process data with expediency and efficiency.
United States ZIP codes are five numerical digits long. ZIP+4 codes, also known as add-on or plus-four codes, include four additional digits that identify a geographic segment within a ZIP code delivery area.
To send mail, only the first five digits of the ZIP code are required. Including the full ZIP+4 code; however, can expedite delivery times due to the specific geographic detail communicated.
ZIP codes are translated into barcodes that enable the automatic sorting of mail, which reduces the amount of human oversight necessary.
A comprehensive list of guidelines and tips for addressing is available on the USPS website. It is estimated that more than 25% of mail pieces have an error such as a missing apartment number or incorrect ZIP code. In some cases, the USPS is able to deliver mail with errors. But it costs the agency time and money — resources that are scarce.
Address validation, also known as address verification, is a technique for cross-referencing postal information with an official dataset in order to check the accuracy of information before you send mail.
One of the benefits of address verification is that it allows you to claim USPS Marketing Mail and First-Class mail prices. For global eCommerce businesses, these cost-savings can amount to substantial benefits.
Address verification is important for minimizing the potential for delivery errors that strain the USPS. It’s estimated that:
The USPS publishes a suite of tools, including an Address Information System (AIS) viewer that provides the ability to retrieve, view, and print accurate and current ZIP code information for all 50 states.
Address verification software uses an application programming interface (API) to validate information against official USPS records.
Behind the scenes, a global data set sits behind the address verification software and aggregates multiple reference data sources into a consistent and reliable single-best-record.
Often unnoticed, address software is an important part of a digital business’s technology stack. To provide a seamless end-user experience, the address validation API needs to deliver results in real-time. From the customer’s perspective, this process should be taking place instantaneously and behind the scenes. There should be no delays, glitches, or bugs.
Loqate helps businesses around the world verify customer addresses by combining our global datasets with best in class technology. Our easy to integrate API helps our customers verify customer data at the point of capture. Find out more about how Loqate address verification solutions can help your business.