At A Glance
Every country has its own unique procedures for its postal operations. It’s impossible for a company to manually keep track of this information, which is necessary for reaching consumers around the world. Not to mention, there are new addresses being added to systems of record on a daily basis. In the United States, the United States Postal Service (USPS) adds 4,221 addresses to its delivery network every day.
Address verification software uses an application programming interface (API) to validate information. Data that someone enters into an online form can be checked against a dataset to validate that it is a real address.
Address Validation Overview
Why Validate Addresses?
One of the challenges of selling goods online is the potential for error due to the number of digital touchpoints between an order taking place and getting fulfilled.
When a customer places an order on an eCommerce website, the information routes to an order management system that communicates with shipping and logistics providers. Some eCommerce companies work with multiple shipping companies to streamline costs. After an item gets shipped, it may exchange hands between different postal carriers — for instance, an order getting shipped from the United States to Canada would exchange hands between the United States Postal Service (USPS) and Canada Post.
Imagine all the problems that may arise:
- A customer may input the wrong information
- The order management system may format an address incorrectly
- A postal code may have changed in an official record due to re-zoning
- There may be natural disasters that cause shipping delays
- A customer relationship management (CRM) platform may house an outdated address for a loyal shopper
- A shopper may enter the wrong credit card information, accidentally
Address validation is an important process for real-time, short-term, and long-term business needs.
Traits Of High-Performing Technology
There are a range of technical solutions for address verification. The performance and quality of these options vary greatly.
Most digitally equipped shipping careers, such as Canada Post and USPS, maintain different APIs for different services. But these resources tend to have limitations in high-transaction environments where organizations may need to validate hundreds of thousands of addresses per second.
High-performing technology will have the following traits:
- The software will be straightforward for non-technical teams to use
- The API will be flexible enough to support the needs of multiple teams within the organizations
- The quality of the data will be the highest on the market, updated frequently
- The platform will be accredited to meet security standards
- The software will integrate with other platforms in a technology stack to support data standardization and hygiene
- The software will have high uptime rates with well-defined procedures for alerting users about planned and unplanned outages
- There will be a responsive, knowledgeable, and empathetic customer care team that is easy to reach
- The technology will work internationally
One criterion to evaluate is the company’s existing customer base. Are these organizations in high-stakes industries? What does the address verification process look like, from the end-user’s perspective, on the front end of the experience? Does it flow seamlessly or result in technical delays?
Use Cases For Validating An Address
There are a number of address validation services available for specific use cases. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Route planning - help shipping companies determine the fastest route for shipping a product
- Location data - display information that may be relevant to a particular geographic location, such as weather
- Map development - create visualizations for store networks; build useful applications
- Reducing failed deliveries - avoid the risk of shipping an item to an incorrect address
- Preventing shipping delays - understand public health considerations and stay aware of updates from shipping carriers
- Geocoding and reverse geocoding - measure distance between postcodes using latitude and longitude data
- Expense calculation - compare and contrast shipping costs across multiple carriers
- Standardization - Ensure that collected data is correct, up to date, and formatted according to country-level needs
- Onboarding - Integrate customers into your business with a higher degree of accuracy
- User experience - Drive higher rates of conversion at all touchpoints where your company collects customer information
Address verification also supports data integrity, reliability, and accuracy in a retailer’s Master Data Management system. As a result, teams throughout your organization can make decisions regarding the following, with confidence:
- Customer account creation - Reduce the need for long forms, wait times, and the need to double-check errors
- Personalized experiences - Ensure that shoppers have a tailored shopping experience that leads to a long-term relationship
- Point of sale (POS) optimization - Create a single customer view with a consistent checkout experience across all physical and digital points of sale
- Order management - Gather accurate addresses, give customers correct information about available delivery options, and make sure delivery timescales are met
- Establish and maintain one central accurate record - Help retailers in all sectors correctly categorize and understand their audience
- Globalize - Identify and correct the large variety of address formats that arise in international commerce
- Speed and accuracy - Improve mobile conversions by pre-populating addresses and avoiding typos
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.
The ability to provide a real-time experience comes from the subtleties of an address validation API’s technical architecture.
The ideal platform will run from a hybrid environment, using both traditional physical data centers and cloud environments, with multiple layers of operational redundancy. This infrastructure will also be globally resilient, in the sense that data centers operate all over the world. That way, the API will be available in reasonable proximity to any location in the world.
To support real-time activity, the API must also be configurable to meet the operational needs of specific contexts. There’s no time to waste on technical steps that do not provide a direct line of sight between the objective and outcome.
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.