Each day, more than 500 million parcel or freight shipments move across the United States. However, in order to arrive at the 155 million addresses of those customers, the contact information noted on those packages must be accurate. This is address verification at its core!
Unfortunately, not all deliveries arrive at their destination on time. In fact, most missed delivery attempts are attributed to clerical or documentation errors. More specifically, notating the incorrect shipping address or point of contact as the main culprit.
It seems logical to assume that writing the correct address on a bill of lading or shipping form would be the easiest step of the supply chain movement. But, as the old saying goes, sometimes the easiest tasks are the ones quickly overlooked.
Address verification is a crucial component of the efficient movement of commodities through the supply chain. Whether double-checking the shipping document, verifying with the customer, or using API software, address verification is critical for all those operating within the supply chain.
In this blog post, we’ll look at some areas that are impacted by failing to simply verify an address. We’ll also outline a few of the most common examples of invalid address mistakes, and how to avoid them.
When Should a Shipping Address be Verified?
Quite frankly... always.
Anytime you are shipping a product to a customer, the first step should be address verification. There are a variety of ways that this is achieved.
Here are a few of the more common...
For online orders
For online orders, we recommend implementing a two-step address verification process.
Simply set up your order form to permit your customer to enter the address details twice. Each time on a separate form. This will ensure they didn’t type in the wrong address as it will alert them if they do not match each other.
Remember, the addition of one wrong number on an address order form can lead to a missed delivery.
Verify Over the Phone
If you take an order over the phone, follow up with the customer by sending an email verification. This permits you to double-check the address you collected verbally right then and there.
Oh, and when calling customers, don't stop at asking them once for their address! Ask them to repeat it again just to ensure you heard it correctly.
Verify with the Carrier
Always verify addresses with the carrier. Just because you heard and notated the address correctly, that doesn't mean the carrier did the same!
Take an extra moment and ensure the correct documentation on their end.
What are the Common Address Mistakes?
Believe it or not, most address mistakes are clerical. It’s caused by somebody making a typing error or receiving inaccurate information from somebody. But the simple error can have huge consequences. In most situations, the following items are the ones that cause carriers headaches and lead to delayed or missed delivery of shipments.
The recipient information has a single name listed.
The shipment is missing a secondary address notation – such as an apartment or suite number.
The package has non-English characters in the address line.
No four-digit zip code added. Many US states have a five-digit primary zip code and a four-digit extension.
The Cost of Missed Deliveries to Shippers
As noted above, customers always hold shippers accountable. It is not always fair, but it is a fact nonetheless.
Even if the customer provided the wrong information initially, they’ll find a way to blame the shipper. After all, the shipper is usually their primary point of contact. So, in their minds, the buck stops with the shipper, so to speak.
However, there are also other factors that impact shippers when a delivery is delayed or missed due to poor address information.
According to a recent survey, 69% of customers will not shop with retailers who botch a delivery. If the shipment is not received within two days of the expected delivery date, customers will opt for others (regardless of the source of the delay).
Negative relationships with carriers
Continuous mistakes generally result in poor carrier relationships. In the end, this may result in higher shipping rates or even canceling of services.
Address verification is a crucial step to take with any shipment processing. Beyond making sure the documented address is correctly notated on shipping documents, but also verifying with the customers if any shipping restrictions exist – such as their hours of availability. By taking a few extra steps, you can reduce the potential of delivery errors, which not only improves customer service but can save you a tremendous amount of money.