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Postcode lookup - does it work in every country?

The pandemic effect

Global eCommerce has been on a steady incline for years but over the last 12 months in particular, the appetite for buying internationally has grown exponentially.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the pandemic raised eCommerce’s share of global retail trade from 14% in 2019 to about 17% in 2020. What’s more, 50% of consumers expect to continue online shopping more often than they did before Covid-19.

While this has paid dividends for many international retailers, it has also brought about challenges for some. Most notably, the difficulty in capturing quality international data and, as a result, an increase in delayed or failed deliveries.

Our latest report echoes this worrying trend, with 55% of eCommerce customers saying that international orders are more likely to experience delivery delays based on their own experiences over the last year.

Addressing the complexities of international data

With 245 continuously changing countries and territories, multiple languages, 139 character scripts, and more than 130 different address formats across the globe, it’s easy to see why capturing international data can be tricky.

Even where differences in formats seem trivial, the lack of one necessary component can prevent your mail from reaching its intended destination. Not only does this risk alienating your foreign customers, the only quick fix for incorrectly captured address details is to pay third-party delivery firms an expensive re-routing fee – and these costs can quickly add up.

Fortunately, international addressing experts have solutions in place that have simplified what was once a very complex process.

Postcodes pose a particular problem

Postcodes are particularly complex because they are formed and formatted differently in each country.

In some countries, like Belgium, postcodes indicate an area as large as a municipality. In others, they indicate areas as small as a group of houses or a single company – for example, in the UK and US.

Some countries have postcodes which cover a large range of possibilities, from several municipalities to a single company. Others allow companies and individuals to have more than one code.

What’s more, over sixty-five countries in the world have no postal code system at all, and only 12 countries support a postcode to the delivery point level.

Postcode lookup - does it work in every country?

Does postcode lookup work in every country?

If you were trading solely in a UK market, then traditional postcode lookup could speed up address forms due to its familiarity for UK shoppers.

However, because of the different ways postcodes are used in each country, having postcodes as a required field on your checkout forms could cause complications and unnecessary friction for foreign customers.

An innovative solution to the postcode problem is predictive address search, which automatically suggests a list of valid addresses as you type, just like a search engine. The user only needs to know part of the address for results to start appearing.

Consumers are growing more familiar with this new style of auto-complete address finder, with 41% of global consumers admitting to abandoning orders if they can’t easily enter their address.

In fact, usability studies show this type-ahead address validation improves speed and accuracy of entry, and makes online shoppers think more positively of e-retailers that offer it.

Which international address provider should I choose?

If you have customers in different countries, select an address provider who can verify and format international postal data, and search for addresses in different languages and character sets. It’s also important to choose a provider that uses only best-in class data from quality, reliable sources.

Capturing global customer data this way means addresses can be verified first time and a single process for data collection and maintenance can be used across your organisation.

As well as enhancing the global customer’s experience, validating international addresses leads to increased checkout conversions, reduced failed deliveries, and enhanced operational efficiency – leaving you feeling like you’ve just won the postcode lottery.

We verify addresses by combining our proprietary technology with the best available datasets. Our global data is built by aggregating multiple reference data sources into a consistent and reliable single-best-record, resulting in the most complete and accurate addresses.

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