We tend to judge the quality of international address verification software by the size of the reference database and the return values it generates. But these metrics are incomplete and have the potential to mislead.
What are better gauges of quality? Local user transactions and local user feedback.
A local address solution, built and maintained in its own country, will have a base of users from that same country. These local users are familiar with the address nuances of their markets so they know what constitutes a good address (and a bad one) based on what people like them expect to see.
Better yet, when they see something that doesn’t look right, they report it. In the nearly five years we’ve seen this dynamic at work, we’ve noticed that providers of local address solutions react quickly to input from their users by incorporating corrections into their address data. This creates a real-time feedback loop for tuning the local engine, ensuring its information is constantly improved and done so quickly.
Local address solutions consumed by local users creates a virtuous cycle where both sides work together to produce the most localized (and reliable) results.
Consider the following hypothetical: Two vendors have provided address solutions for a country for over ten years each. One vendor has a local staff of developers and has processed over 750,000,000 address transactions from a customer base of more than 10,000 users in its country. As a result it has developed a deep competency of experience in the area.
The other vendor has no local staff in the country even though it has a handful of customers there. This generates a significantly lower number of addresses being run and reviewed by users with a local mindset. The vendor’s knowledge of the market’s local nuances is developed from a distance and without the benefit of significant local feedback to help improve its results.
If you’re an eCommerce business shipping goods into this country, which vendor would you have more confidence in for verifying your customer addresses? Which one would you trust to make sure your parcel is delivered to your customer on time?
If you are vetting international address verification solutions, consider a different set of metrics. Local user transactions and feedback should play as much of (or perhaps more important role) than the simple measures of size of the reference dataset or the outputs of an engine.
Let local customers and local experience be your guide.