This might seem like a strange statement to make but bear with me.
Why is it important to know more about different names, countries and cities? Well, did you know that there are over 130 different address formats in the world, 6,000 languages, 40 personal name formats? Think about your online forms. You may deliver an amazing online service for customers in your own country - after all, you already know the way addresses there are formatted - but if you really think about it, do you provide the same great service for your international customers? Honestly?
Let’s take a look at just a few of the ways customers in different countries enter their address details.
In the UK, addresses begin with the recipient’s name, followed by (if applicable) the apartment number, the number or name of the property, the street name, then the town or city, the county and, finally the postcode. Adding the country is also necessary if you are sending an item or correspondence abroad.
So, if you wanted to write a letter to Gareth Southgate at England’s national stadium, it would be addressed as so:
However, it’s a different ball game (ahem) for customers living in Italy. As with many European address formats (think Germany, Holland, Belgium), the addressee is followed by the street name, then the house name or number. This is then followed by the postcode, locality, premise (and country if necessary).
If you’re sending a letter to Italy’s manager, it would be addressed like this:
Viale dei Gladitori
Interestingly, Russia uses the same address format as Italy, but an important factor to consider is that the alphabet they use is not Latin, but Cyrillic, meaning your forms must be able to recognise and capture these different characters for them to complete a form successfully in the way they usually would in their own language.
If you want to send a letter to Russia manager Evgeny Bushmanov, you would need to address it to:
Ul. Luzhniki, 24
And of course, we can't forget the World Cup finalists.
In France, addresses are written in a similar way to the UK in the sense that the house name/ number comes before the street name, but is more similar to Italy when it gets to the postcode. The format looks like this: Addressee, property name or number, street name, postcode (a 5-digit number), then the locality, followed by the country. So writing a letter to France's manager Didier Deschamps would go like this:
Stade de France
In Croatia the street name comes before the name or number of the property, like in the Italy example above, then the floor or apartment number, locality, HR, postcode + post office code, followed by the country. If you're writing to Croatia manager Zlatko Dalić, the format is as follows:
Maksimirska cesta 128
While creating a great CX that allows customers to fill out your forms quickly and easily is vital, it is not the sole reason for ensuring your forms can capture world address formats. There is also the fact that gathering incorrect data is a costly business that companies cannot afford to get wrong. In a recent Loqate report, we looked at the costs associated with incorrect data and found that 65% of retailers say failed/late deliveries are a significant cost to their business. And it isn’t only retailers that should be worried about this. Without clean and accurate data, businesses across a whole range of sectors suffer poor efficiency, failed communications and damage to brand reputation.
Without at least the basic of understanding national data you could find yourself forever losing the game against data, and never achieving the data quality you desire. By making sure your data collection systems mirror the data formats of the country and language as closely as possible you can increase data accuracy.
A great way to achieve this is to use auto-complete or other address validation software at the data entry stage e.g. when your customer enters their address at the online checkout. There is no better way of collecting correct data than interacting with the source – your customer. Trading in any international country comes with myriad of challenges and rewards. However, the businesses that will succeed will be the ones that look and feel like they have been built within the local market.
So, if you want to win the Address Formats World Cup, the key is to research the countries you are intending to move into to get a good understanding of what your customers in that market want, the way in which they complete online forms and use the relevant technology that will help you achieve the results you are working towards.
Find out more about going global in our Internationalisation Retail Index