When you want to buy a new television, before you walk into a store, you’ll probably check prices online. From pens and pencils to jewellery, everything is available online today. E-commerce is a great opportunity for retailers but it comes with its challenges.
Each year, hundreds and thousands of orders go undelivered because the address listed is incomplete or inaccurate. According to estimates, 23.6% of mail is addressed wrong. These errors are expensive for businesses and frustrating for customers. Thus, it’s not difficult to see why address verification and standardization need to be a priority.
Inaccuracies With Address Data
Typographical errors are the most common type of address related issue. For example, an individual may mistakenly enter 517 instead of 571. To err is human. Customers may mistakenly enter abbreviations or miss out on an element when entering their address. The ZIP code is probably the most commonly forgotten element. While it may not seem like a big deal, it can make it difficult for deliveries to be completed on time.
The second type of issue that plagues addresses is invalid entries. This is typically associated with the fraud. The fraudster may enter a fake address or make up their own ZIP code. They may also intentionally enter the wrong address. Alternatively, an individual may use an address that is no longer valid. For instance, he/she might have moved states but forgotten to update the address. In such cases, the address is valid but the person the order is delivered to will not be the intended recipient.
Another issue with address data is an unstructured address. For example, the individual may enter his street name first and then enter the house number. The system may be unable to understand such addresses and hence may tag them as inaccurate or incomplete.
Manually trying to format every address entered by all the customers is times taking and nearly impossible. A company cannot afford to call each customer up individually and cross-check their addresses. It can also be counterproductive as it once again opens the database up to human errors.
Apart from human error, poor address data quality can be caused by database decay or occur when two companies merge and share combined databases.
How Can Addresses Be Verified And Standardized?
The best way to verify and standardize addresses is by using an address standardization app or software. These are third-party services that will help you quickly and accurately verify your address database. Here’s how it can help.
Before you start cleaning up your address database, you should know where the problem lies. Data processing refers to a process wherein the source data is reviewed to understand the content, structure and interrelationships amidst elements. The software will identify recurring patterns and collect descriptive statistics like the average length of an address line, etc. You will be able to instantly spot errors like non-printable characters or columns where letters are entered in place of numbers.
Parsing Address And Standardizing Formats
Next, addresses are broken down into individual components. For example, the house number is put in column 1, the street name in column 2, the city name in column 3 and so on. This standardizes addresses and helps identify gaps in the address. Negative spaces and non-printable characters are removed at this stage.
Once the addresses have been parsed into individual components, the missing blocks are filled in. If the city name is given, the software will try to complete the address by adding a ZIP code. Similarly, if the ZIP code is mentioned but the city name is not, the software can fill in the gaps. Certain corrections and updates may also be made. For example, let’s say the name of a street has been recently changed. The software will identify entries with the old street name and update them to reflect the new name.
Duplicate entries can create problems with verification as well as affect data analysis reports. Hence, they must be avoided at all costs. Address verification tools highlight duplicates and help weed them out. They can go through thousands of rows at a time and even find duplicates with minor differences. For example, it may tag entries as duplicates where all the elements of the address including the city name mentioned are the same but the ZIP codes are different.
Once the database has been standardized and duplicates have been removed, all entries are checked against a reliable third-party database such as the driving license records, etc. to verify the addresses.
Having poor quality address data is inevitable at some stage or the other. To keep it from affecting your business, you need to address the issue. The good news is that with address verification software, you can easily correct, verify and standardize addresses and minimize the impact of poor data quality.
Don’t drown in bad data. We’re here to help.
To see how we can help you with address verification and standardization, get in touch with one of our solution experts today and see how we can help you get address data you can use for its intended purpose.