An Open Letter
Making Global Address Verification Better Through Local Intelligence
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Here’s a fact to consider: Most global address verification systems are built with generic address data licensed from country postal agencies.
I’ve been part of this industry for over 20 years and here’s its dirty secret…Postal agencies are not always the most reliable sources for data.
Many only confirm address data to the locality or range-base levels. Not to the delivery point. Not even to the house or street levels.
Many only update address data once a year. Think of all the address changes – new apartments go up, old offices come down – that happen around the world in a year!
So why do the majority of global address verification systems use this older data model?
Because it’s easy to get, cheap to license, and for 50 years it’s been good enough for their primary clients, bulk mailers.
Here’s another dirty secret of the industry: the generic address verification systems have a false-positive bias. This means they confirm a lot of addresses without knowing if they really exist.
Why? Because they know that once the postal stream gets it to the local delivery office, local intelligence (the people who sort and deliver mail) can fix a lot of the address errors for them.
This approach has been good enough for bulk mail clients. To them, losing some mail here and there is just a cost of doing business.
But with the growth of cross-border trade, a new client has come onto the scene with new requirements: eCommerce.
For eCommerce, good enough address verification is not enough. Every parcel counts. When customers order from their websites, they expect their packages to arrive and arrive quickly. There is no room for mis-delivery or delayed shipments from bad address data.
This means the address verification systems are failing eCommerce.
In 2011, my colleague Charles and I founded the Global Data Consortium with this premise in mind:
What if the local delivery person in Sao Paulo could tell you whether he can deliver your package before you even shipped it?
To fix the problems of mis-delivery and delayed shipping we decided to bring local intelligence to the address verification process.
Even though postal agency address data is the easiest to get, we decided on a different model. Instead, we go into each country to find partners that are legally able to collect better address data and that put in place feedback loops to update it more frequently.
In Brazil, for example, our address partner built a niche for itself by filling the data gaps left by the Brazilian postal operator, Correios. The urban data from Correios did not contain delivery point details, and it often didn’t even maintain addresses outside of major cities.
So our partner built its own database by sending people out to create delivery point detail (at times, literally following the local delivery man on his routes!) and finding commercial and government sources to provide them updates every time a new building was built and new addresses came online. Domestic Brazilian businesses (like courier services, direct mailing firms, and utility companies) opt for our partner’s data over the Correios because it’s just that much better.
And when you use this data to verify your Brazil addresses, it’s like having Sao Paulo’s local delivery people tell you whether you have the right address before you ever ship your package.
Now imagine having access to that local intelligence in Buenos Aires, Perth, Quebec City, Tallinn, Budapest…the best available data in every major country.
We call it Worldview, our robust cloud-based platform that gives you a single point of access to this Brazilian data along with the best address data in 30 other countries. And we’re constantly finding new partners, vetting their data quality, and adding new countries to the mix.
Who are we helping with Worldview’s local data intelligence?
> eCommerce businesses shipping across borders;
> The Companies to which eCommerce looks for help, such as Logistics, Fulfillment, and Delivery businesses;
> Data cleansing services seeking to provide their customers with more reliable results (“lift”) than they can get through generic address verification services; and
> Mapping/routing software that needs to validate its address data before adding it to maps.
If this describes you, let’s talk. Let us improve your world view.