Is Your Address Validation Process Leading to Shipping Damages?
Melissa IN Team | |
It’s frustrating when an order is returned not because the customer didn’t like it but because the delivery address was wrong. There are many buildings and streets that share names. There are even a few cities that share names. Did you know there’s a Melbourne in Australia as well as Florida?
The customer may be the one who entered an incomplete or incorrect address but when they don’t get their order delivered on time, it’s your company that gets a bad name. The good news is that this can be prevented. All you need to do is validate addresses.
What Is Address Validation?
Address validation refers to the process of comparing street addresses with addresses in reliable third-party databases to ensure that they are correct, complete and valid. It ensures that the address is deliverable and associated with the person entering it.
In cases where details are missing, the address validation tool may also fill in the gaps. For example, if the city name is missing but the address includes the pin code, the validation tool can enrich the address by adding the city name. It can also enrich data by updating elements that may have changed. For example, the city may have changed a street name.
Lastly, an address validation tool standardizes the address format to make it readable. This also helps minimize the risk of having duplicate records in your database.
Why Is Address Validation Required?
In the current day where people are shopping for high-value items online, address validation is more important than ever. Three things could happen if you have an invalid address:
- Your package may be delivered to the wrong person
If somebody other than the intended recipient gets the package, they may not always return it. They may keep it and you’ll assume the order has been delivered. Since the actual customer didn’t receive the package, they may complain online and your brand image slips. You’ll eventually have to ship out the order again and bear the loss of not just double shipping but the first product as well.
- Your package may be returned and need to be re-shipped
If your package is returned because of an undeliverable address, you’ll have to recheck the address with the customer and attempt delivery for a second time. In an era where we’re used to one-day deliveries, this delay is unacceptable. Of course, paying the shipping fee twice for the same order also eats into your profits.
- Your package may get lost
There’s also the risk of your package getting lost. The delivery agent may leave it on a doorstep but if the person living there doesn’t accept it, it’ll lie on the curb until someone else picks it up or it is trashed. As in the above cases, you’ll need to reship the product. Worse, the customer may cancel the order and ask for a refund.
Irrespective of the scenario, the result is the same – disenchanted customers and unnecessary costs. If you look at the bigger picture, you’ve also increased your carbon footprint and wasted resources.
How To Validate Addresses?
Checking each street address manually is next to impossible and a very poor use of your man-hours. This is a check that needs to be automated. You need to integrate an address validation software with your data input interface as well as your database. Simply put, addresses must meet three criteria.
- They must be complete with all the relevant details
- They must be accurate with valid building and street names, etc
- They must be the current address of the intended recipient.
To ensure that addresses are complete, you must first determine the required fields and structure your address input fields accordingly. Design rules to ensure that addresses are accepted only when all the fields have been filled in. Using an address autocomplete tool can be a great help especially when customers are entering long street names with confusing spellings.
Once the address is entered, it will be checked against a reliable third-party database to verify that the address is deliverable and linked to the intended recipient. Let’s see how it works with an example
“Heritage Towers, Apartment number 16, Main Street, Now Delhi, India”
- Validity check
If ‘Heritage Towers’ has only 15 apartments, the software will highlight the address as invalid. Similarly, if ‘Main Street’ has been renamed as ‘Central Avenue’, the address will be updated to reflect the current name.
- Accuracy check
Typographic errors like ‘Now Delhi’ can be corrected to ‘New Delhi’.
- Completeness check
The software may enrich the data and return it as:
“Heritage Towers, Apartment number 16, 5th Floor, Main Street, New Delhi, India”
The software will check to see that the address is currently associated with the individual named as the recipient.
- Format Check
The address may be reformatted as:
“Apartment number 16, 5th Floor, Heritage Towers, Main Street, New Delhi, India”
In this way, an address validation tool will improve the quality of address data entering the database. Along with checking data as it is entered, this tool also needs to be integrated with the database to check existing records on a regular basis. When people move from one house to another, they don’t always update their addresses with eCommerce websites. Studies show that customer data decays at the rate of 37.5% annually!
Your shipping partner will undoubtedly have many fail-safes built-in to provide timely delivery services but if they get the wrong address, they can’t do much. It is your responsibility to ensure that the customer addresses are correct and deliverable. For this, you need to choose the right address validation software.
When you’re comparing solutions, ensure that they can validate addresses in the countries that you deliver to, have access to trustworthy databases for comparison and can provide real-time validity checks. Not only will your investment reduce the risk of wasted shipments, but it will also make your operations more cost-effective and keep your customers happy.