Getting Addresses Right in Finland and Sweden

Earlier this week I was sitting in a Helsinki café reviewing notes of meetings with one of our local market data providers. We spent most of the day together; however, it was the random mention of a couple of unique feature of Finnish and Swedish addresses that in my mind further validated the GDC business model.

Being that Sweden and Finland are both neighbors and that they also both have high degrees of cross border commerce activity, it should be no surprise that buildings have both a Finnish address and a Swedish address. Yes that is correct, every building has two addresses to facilitate cultural interaction and exchange.

Bilingual street sign in Kruununhaka, Helsinki, Finland. Oikokatu is the Finnish, Gengatan the Swedish name of the street. By BishkekRocks via Wikimedia Commons

 

Why does this matter? Well if you are using an international address verification solution that only offers one address or the other address for those countries then you risk offending the recipient. Suppose you are Starbucks and that you are sending out direct mail circulars about a new store in the city (yes they are spreading…everywhere). What happens when you send mail to a Finnish address that houses a Swedish family living in Helsinki. Sure they will receive the mailer but will they note that you didn’t use the address they consider to be proper? I bet Tony Hsieh, Zappos.com CEO, would give that a failcat for customer service.

The other unique occurrence in Finnish address quality is the concept of the corner address. This is where a business may have two distinct addresses while occupying the same space. Why is this important? Businesses in Finland may wish to use a different address for inventory shipments “around back” at the loading dock while receiving letters and correspondences at the front office. This is a widespread preference and not likely to be caught by most broad based international address delivery solutions.

So think about it, does your global address verification provider offer four addresses for your business addresses (two in Finnish and two in Swedish)? Does your provider enable your online retail fraud verification or identity management by having address data for both countries in both languages?

Good cross border commerce requires the use of good data with localized expertise in the form of algorithms for standardization, matching and parsing. Do it right and customer loyalty is the prize. Do it wrong and you lose the opportunity in global markets.