Why Local is Better with International Address Verification

International address verification has a lot of applications, from ensuring the timely delivery of items to standardizing data in your CRM to giving drivers accurate directions when they’re using your mapping apps.

In every case, a localized country engine will always be better than a generic address solution. I’ve been having a lot of conversations on this topic recently, and three major reasons keep coming up on why local is better.

There are three defined reasons why a localized country engine will produce better results. A localized country solution will return results based on the perspective of the country or better said the results will correspond to user expectations. Depth of coverage by a local country engine tends to reduce inaccurate False Positive results as typically produced by generalized address verification engines. A local engine will also have a much stronger feedback dynamic for correction of errors and omission associated with address output results.

  1. User Perspective

User perspective is a fuzzy term to use here, but it’s important that we don’t lose perspective of the end user – the consumer – who actually makes final use of our address data.

An address output from any engine should look like the format of the country the address represents. In the United States, the typical format is Building Number, Street Name, Apt or Suite Info followed by City, State and Zip Code. Many other countries follow a format that begins with Street Name then Building number and then followed by other information.

Additionally if the address is a Japanese, Russian or other similar type address, representing it in Latin script characters will create some level of interpretation requirement by a local delivery representative or customer service agent who doesn’t have familiarity with non-local language and address formats.

Does this matter? Yes! The user perspective, the way they read and interpret the address on their package, parcel or in their map app matters. As I’ve witnessed recently with an invoice sent to my office, a letter whose address isn’t formatted to country standards often get delayed in delivery because it gets pushed into the exception processing queues in various postal sorting facilities. It requires postal workers to touch it, look at it, and make human decisions about where it gets delivered. That always spells delay.

Another example to consider on user perspective: In Finlandaddresses are denoted in both Finnish and Swedish. Depending on the nationality of the resident, misrepresenting a mailing address on a piece of correspondence (such as a hotel loyalty program marketing piece) affects perception of the sender. Google experienced this issue firsthand when it provided Finnish street address information in Google Maps that was in Swedish versus dual language representation (!topic/maps/BtdWUJs1wpI[1-25-false]). Google was quick to correct the problem, but not before they generated some serious bad blood amongst users by not fully understanding the nuances of Finnish-Swedish culture.

They didn’t appreciate the importance of user perspective in presenting addresses. If they had been using an address engine that incorporated local rules and sensibilities, this never would have been a problem.

  1. Depth of Coverage and False Positives

Depth of coverage is a significant issue for the output results produced by many generic address verification engines. Most systems are only able to verify that a street may exist within a city and thus an address is more likely to be Deliverable and thus they label it “Correct.” This is a fallacy known as a false positive result.

A local country engine leverages a greater depth of coverage in the form of more data along with rules that reflect a greater understanding of local deliverability standards. More data means the ability to verify whether a building/house number exists on the street and whether there is enough information within the address to truly locate the address. This deeper level of detail reduces the risk of the false positive.

Take Toronto’s Yonge Street as an example. Yonge Street has been called the world’s longest street. While not accurate, itis over 50 kilometers long. Were a parcel addressed solely with a name, Yonge Street and a Toronto zip code is it likely to be truly deliverable? Not likely. But a generic address engine would likely give it that “Correct” label.

Would you want to chance an expensive parcel or important document to it being enough information?

Having more data and knowledge about the region you cover – as local data sources naturally do – ensures a better interpretation of the output information. It reduces this problem with false positives and thereby increases deliverability rates.

  1. Feedback Dynamics

Local country engines tend to be 100% focused on customers/users from the same local market. That’s the secret to their success. They create address engines that are much more specific than the generic alternatives.

Why? Because their business is about producing the most accurate data that, for example, can be sold to direct marketing mailers that need assurance that their brochure is actually getting to the reader. Or to the courier who must get a package to its final delivery point. These are their primary customers, and in building address data to serve them, it’s just much more reliable.

Let’s not forget the power of the feedback loop. Customers of the local address engines are also providing constant feedback about the accuracy of the local provider’s outputs. This is a great resource base for constantly improving the output results. Reliability is baked in.

Globalized generic solutions that don’t have a strong customer/user footprint in local markets don’t benefit from this same user feedback loop. That just can’t iterate improvements at the same rate as a local provider that’s directly accountable to its clients for results.

So there you have it – User Perspective, Depth of Coverage, Local Feedback Loops – the variables that best define why local sources of data is so much better when it comes to international address verification. They help to generate a more ACCURATE address output result and thus a BETTER result for users whether locally or globally located.

Global Data Consortium’s Worldview platform provides access to over 27 local country engines for address verification worldwide. We are adding solutions at a rate of 3-4 per month and expect to have coverage for over 40 countries and regions before the end of the year. Whether it is Mexico, Brazil, Poland, Spain, Italy, Australia, Finland or The Czech Republic, GDC can help provide you with a more ACCURATE address result in addition to other international results such as Identity verification. Create a BETTER Customer experience. Try Worldview and See More Clearly.

The Two Faces of Amazon and a Lesson for Retailing Online to a Global Audience

Firstly, let me state clearly I LOVE AMAZON.COM! It is easy to use, has an inventory that rocks and a robust distribution network. A friend of mine in Germany recently sent me a great video (Berlin Calling) for the holidays using The video appeared to have been shipped from Germany and arrived in a fairly timely manner.

International distribution is a very tricky area for most companies selling a physical product. Once you are beyond the issue of verifying the buyer’s payment the issue becomes “How do you get this item to the desired destination?” in a cost effective way.

About a year ago, I used to send a $20 book to a client in Brazil. The shipping costs ended up being over $60.00. To be clear, I was sending this to a business address in Sao Paulo and not to a more remote location like Florianopolis or Porto Alegre. A component of the high cost was due to the lack of use of international addressing capability for Brazil. As a result, the information I entered in the “ship to” section was more or less a free text field and it was not checked against any type of Brazilian address reference data.

The lesson to be learned here is that cost effective fulfillment of international orders can be accomplished with the judicious use of some basic address standardization technology, coupled to a good source of reference data. There are a number of vendors of different sizes and shapes; so, give this serious thought as you look to expand your growth internationally in 2012.

By the way, that book I sent to Brazil is called “The Business of Software.” It is a great read for those starting or managing a software company.