Your Customers Don’t Know Where They Live

Posted by Taylor Haney on Wed, Nov 12, 2014

We have a great eCommerce guest blog by Stephanie Zatyko, Content Marketing Specialist at Experian Data Quality. Stephanie gives great insights into improving eCommerce check out processes. 

Stephanie ZatykoStephanie Zatyko is a Content Marketing Specialist with Experian Data Quality and a self-proclaimed bar trivia extraordinaire. Find her on Twitter @StephZatyko.

Whether you are running a small e-commerce shop or you’re Amazon, you have likely encountered customers who don’t seem to know where they live. From innocent typos or missing ZIP+4® information, to addresses in the wrong state or even country, retailers are constantly encountering issues due to invalid or inaccurate address data entered by their customers.

Here are three ways that an address verification solution can help guide end users through the check-out process and streamline the internal operations of your e-commerce site.

Simplify the shopping cart check-out process

Picture this: a customer is visiting your e-commerce site and finds a must-have item. The user recently moved to Boston, Massachusetts and lives on Tremont Street, but mistakenly enters Treemont Street as the shipping address. The item gets shipped to Treemont Street in Jacksonville, Florida because you have not implemented an address verification solution on your site. Not only do you have an upset customer, your brand and reputation may be damaged – all because your customer doesn’t seem to know where they live.

There are seemingly endless ways to integrate address verification directly onto your website to simplify the user experience. Real-time validation can work in the background as a user is entering their information, verifying the address and prompting them for any missing details and correcting any spelling or formatting errors while they are still engaged. An address verification solution will guarantee that you are collecting accurate information and your users will be treated to a superior online shopping experience.

Improve shipping processes

In the example laid out above, you are likely to be charged for the returned shipment that was supposed to be sent to Boston, MA but ended up in Jacksonville, FL. Returned mail and undeliverable package fees can really add up for an e-commerce retailer that is filling hundreds or thousands of shipments per day. It is critical for retailers to minimize these fees that can cut into margins. Collecting an accurate shipping address the first time will not only help you save on operational costs, it will also cut down on duplicate efforts and trying to collect a valid shipping address on the back-end.

Another benefit of an address verification tool is the potential mailing discounts retailers can receive. The USPS® uses the Coding Accuracy Support System™ (CASS) to evaluate the accuracy of address validation software. It works by checking five-digit ZIP®, ZIP + 4® and delivery point codes. Retailers who use an address verification product that is CASS certified can qualify for lower postage costs and bulk-mailing rates.

Increase data accuracy

Data quality is paramount in today’s data-driven world. In the example described above, one small typo set off several negative interactions with the e-commerce retailer. While one would hope that customers know where they live, their error could potentially result in a negative experience, a lost customer and ultimately, lost revenue.

Retailers are collecting so much data on a daily basis, it is unrealistic to think that someone can manually cleanse and standardize everything that is entering your database. Integrating a real-time address verification solution on your website as data is being collected will help keep your data as accurate as possible by validating and standardizing customer information at the point of entry.

Accurate customer data is critical for nearly every department in your organization. The operations department needs valid address information to ensure prompt delivery of shipments. Accurate data is critical for the marketing department to have the ability to communicate with customers in an engaging, meaningful way. The IT department requires access to accurate, actionable data to manage and scale technology needs. Accounting needs accurate customer information for billing and processing. Inaccurate data can have negative affects across your entire organization.

It sometimes seems like customers have no idea where they live. Users are constantly multi-tasking, so typos or inaccurate data entry can be tough to avoid. Leveraging an address verification solution can help e-commerce retailers streamline the user experience during check out, improve shipping processes and increase data accuracy. Interested to learn more? Check out how Overstock.com reduced its logistical and customer care costs by close to $1,000,000.