Companies, ecommerce businesses and professionals can benefit enormously from the validation and geocoding of postal addresses. In frequent and purely technical operations, like data entry, or for specific task objectives, like sending advertising material to a precise geographical area, can really take advantage on address validation and geocoding through specific software or an online portal; these substantial benefits can’t be matched by any other IT system, much less manual. Let’s just think what happened about twenty years ago, when the correction and insertion of postal addresses was still done by hand by secretaries and employees. Over time, technology has made great progress, reducing the margin of error and speeding up the work of millions of people around the world.
The increase in security on the one hand and the reduction of timing on the other are not the only advantages associated with address validation and geocoding performed with software like ours. Alongside these two very important results, it is indeed necessary to keep in mind lesser known, but no less decisive, aspects. It is clear that validation and geocoding – i.e. cleansing up one or more addresses and then turning them into geographical coordinates – have very different applications (with more or less evident advantages depending on the scenario in which we are), but some advantages deserve to be explained and argued in more detail so even the most inexperienced users have the opportunity to evaluate the offer of a complete validation and geocoding service without doubts and possible misunderstandings. Find out for yourself what benefits you could get from these processes!
1) LESS WASTE OF RESOURCES, TIME AND MONEY
As it is easy to guess, the first and most immediate advantage of a validation of postal addresses concerns the optimization of resources, time and money spent to manage your own work and your company’s work. In every business sector, the use of validation software ensures a substantial cut in waste in favor of greater efficiency and a net increase in performance. Operations that were previously managed by two or three people can be carried out in a few steps by a single person in charge, leaving the bulk of the checks and corrections to the validation and geocoding program. In this case, the system takes care of everything we want, from the normalization of the addresses to the merging of duplicates, from the translation of postal data into other languages to the transliteration into alphabets other than the original one. All much faster than the fastest computer specialist.
The check-out procedure of an ecommerce business is a crucial moment in a user’s shopping experience. It is at this stage that the person finalizes his efforts and buys what he wants: if something goes wrong, the most likely consequence is the abandonment of the procedure and the website. For those who sell, this abandonment turns into an economic loss at the moment and, in many cases, even in the future if we consider the additional purchases generated by a returning (loyal) customer. It is, therefore, very important to facilitate the data entry by the customer as well as the payment procedure: not all entrepreneurs pay due attention to this phase, which is the most important for getting profits from an online sales business. Forgetting to take care of the check-out phase and not make it intuitive, quick and usable from any device is a serious mistake that could compromise the outcome of an ecommerce business, despite having sufficient sales potential.
The experience in this sector teaches us that some best practices can improve the performance of a virtual store, whether small or large. If we set some priorities in the long list of measures necessary to improve the check-out phase, we can identify some interventions that should be implemented immediately. Hereinafter, we have selected five practices, all crucial for providing a modern user experience in line with the expectations of an audience who is more and more used to shopping online. So, what are these best practices? Let’s take a look at them one by one in detail, starting with the offer of alternative payment systems.
1) EXTENDING THE PAYMENT METHODS (EVEN IN INSTALLMENTS)
An excellent prerequisite for not betraying the good will of the potential customer during the check-out phase is to offer him several payment systems. By now, all ecommerce businesses offer different options, such as the bank transfer or the payment via PayPal, but not all of them are in step with the times, offering, for example, alternative and smart methods such as Satispay (i.e. a mobile app). In recent years, special software for paying the amount in installments have spread exponentially and now it is possible to pay in 2, 3, 4, 5 or more monthly installments. Among these systems, already available in Italy, we can bring up the following:
Some of these systems are well established, while others are still in development and have significant growth margins. Certainly, making them available in your ecommerce business at the time of check- out can make a big difference, especially if the products on sale have prices above 200-300 Euros. The costs for those who manage the ecommerce business are quite accessible and the installation is simplified by the plugins and APIs provided by each platform.
2) OFFERING THE OPPORTUNITY TO BUY AS A GUEST
In a world where everyone is on the run, filling out personal details as a buyer should take seconds. To speed up the procedure even more, some ecommerce businesses have introduced the variant of purchasing as a guest, that is, as an unregistered user. In this case, it is sufficient to enter only the name and email address, then the system will automatically send an e-mail to confirm the purchase and call up the possibility of registering. This is also something to keep in mind for those ecommerce businesses that sell digital products and are not bound to the actual shipment of goods (and therefore don’t need a postal address). In any case, it can help all online sales websites as well, as long as this does not cause confusion for a user who expects to enter his complete data (i.e. personal data and address).
People who buy a product are quite careful about what they are paying for, especially if the amount is high. Therefore, to improve the checkout procedure, it is advisable to provide all the relevant information, from the list of products in the cart (with their relevant price) to the shipping address provided. These pieces of information are usually reported in sequence, but they must remain clearly visible and editable by the user. Indeed, it often happens that the buyer changes his mind during the procedure, before completing the checkout phase, for example because he sees the VAT and the modified amount, or because he realizes that he has entered incorrect data (we will see in the last point how to solve this inconvenience). Providing a clear summary is an effective way to improve the purchase process and prevent our customer from getting annoyed to the point that he abandons the order or stops adding other products to his cart.
4) CLEARLY SHOWING THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE
The terms and conditions of use of an ecommerce business should be clearly specified and the text should be given on a dedicated page. This is not only for legal reasons due to legal obligations to protect the consumer, but also for obvious reasons of transparency: in case of doubts at the very last moment, the user could search for information on the seller, such as the seller’s registered office, the methods of return or other. Furthermore, digital products and items that are subject to the minimum return period of 14 days should be accompanied in the checkout by a note similar to this:
I agree to lose the right of withdrawal as soon as I make the purchase
To process documents like these, including legal terms, it is advisable to consult a lawyer or specialized online platforms such as Lexdoit. This not only increases the chances of conversion, but, at the same time, it allows you to fulfill legal obligations as required in the digital environment.
5) GUARANTEEING THE CORRECT INSERTION OF THE ADDRESS
Finally, we come to the last point, the correct insertion of the address. What do we mean by this best practice? The answer seems obvious, but it is not. Many buyers, even regular ones, miss this step because they do not realize that they have omitted their house number, or they have written the wrong postal code, and so on. This applies to the shipping address, billing data or personal data if the purchase is carried out by a private individual. The problem that arises in these scenarios depends on the system used for data entry. The most popular hypotheses are two as follows:
– Manual data entry
If the data is entered manually without proper checks, the risk of having a wrong address or inaccurate data is quite probable. Indeed, the user, because of haste or distraction, may not realize that he has made a mistake, and it is not certain that the error will be discovered by those who manage the shipping service. The outcome could, therefore, be disastrous: the package won’t arrive, the delivery will be delayed, a customer will be dissatisfied or invoicing will have to be redone!
– Guided data entry
This second mode involves the assistance of a plugin or software using API functionality (or a virtual automatic system). The first advantage is that the insertion uses auto-completion, a function that is very similar to Google’s suggested searches: when the user types the first part of the address, the only possible alternatives are suggested directly in the form to be filled in, thus avoiding possible errors, discrepancies and omissions.
Whether the address has been entered with the assistance of Address4 or not, the Admin who uses our software can always choose to carry out a reclamation of his list of addresses and consequent geocoding to correct any errors and obtain the right geolocation. Accuracy is, therefore, combined with the flexibility of use in every business project.
CHECKING AND VALIDATING DATA WITH ADDRESS 4
If you are looking for a professional system to ensure foolproof customer data entry, Address 4 software is the solution for you. With Egon, you can integrate a checkout form for collecting each customer’s data in a safe and reliable way. Thanks to extensive coverage (over 250 countries worldwide), and thanks to real-time data correction and check features, Address 4 improves the sales rate of your online store, even if it manages significant volumes of orders every day. You can configure our software via plugins, with API or with the assistance of our technical team. Try the free demo to understand the potential of Address 4 in address validation and give your ecommerce business an edge!
The process of converting addresses into geographical coordinates is used in many areas for a very specific purpose: to obtain latitude and longitude values from a physical or postal address. This operation, defined in technical jargon as “geocoding”, allows you to convert one or more records entered by hand or by file into various formats in a safe and fast way. Once the geographical coordinates have been obtained, it will be possible to carry out further complex operations, such as triangulation on the map to calculate the shortest route between the starting point, the arrival point and the passage point in order to reduce the fuel consumption of a vehicle and optimize the delivery time. Therefore, geocoding opens the doors to new and important business and market opportunities in sectors such as transport, logistics, shipping and more. But how do you get an error-proof conversion of addresses into geographic coordinates? What software do you use and how can you solve geocoding needs for databases containing up to hundreds of thousands of addresses? In this article, we will try to understand how to face a conversion in a workmanlike manner without any special skills and from any device, including mobile devices.
TRANSFORMING ADDRESSES INTO COORDINATES STEP BY STEP
Understanding how the transformation or conversion of addresses into geographic coordinates takes place is essential to recognize the risks and benefits of a software-automated process compared to a manual operation. Indeed, if once it was inevitable to process data with analog systems of dubious precision and scarce practicality, nowadays modern technologies ensure a perfect performance of geocoding at reduced costs and with zero margin of error. Everything is done with the help of validation software that can also manage requests for geocoding, or the conversion of addresses into geographic coordinates. These computer programs work according to a proven and, as we have seen, error-proof procedure. Through a series of steps in rapid sequence, the addresses are checked and reclaimed until the final transformation into geographical coordinates (latitude and longitude). In this regard, we report the most important steps performed after launching a query with Address4 software:
address check, first of all, the addresses are examined in order to find the right matches, or at least the most likely matches between what is uploaded and what is present in the database. Entering a non-existent phrase or address, for example, will produce an error, while entering a correct (or existing but with errors) address will lead to the next step.
completion and updating, the address, at this point, is enriched in the missing parts and the obsolete values are updated. The addresses that miss a datum, such as the territorial code or the house number, will be completed in real time by the software with extreme precision and with information verified day by day.
address conversion and geocoding, the final step is the transformation of the address into geographic coordinates, with coverage that reaches 250 countries around the world. All this in a few seconds in the case of a single request or a few minutes for a file with hundreds or even thousands of addresses.
Batch geocoding has been possible for many years but how can we take advantage of the service provided by Google Maps to carry out batch geocoding?
The answer is not obvious for those who work with postal addresses every day. We know that Google Maps offers the geocoding service via API, address by address, and gives results that don’t always meet expectations. If a company needs to accurately geolocate a list of hundreds or even thousandsof addresses at the same time (that is commonly known as bulk geocoding or batch geocoding), the use of Google Maps via API could be limiting and impractical. The company, in fact, should first develop ad hoc software able to connect via API to Google Maps and then manage the entire process of sending and receiving geographical data and addresses without any mistakes. Furthermore, the system, even if built to perfection, should accept unreservedly the results provided in output by the Google Maps API geocoder, counting on the one hand that the starting data is correct or precise enough not to generate ambiguity and, on the other hand, that the Google Maps application is able to process the addresses providing reliable results in output. But this approach lacks precision and safety!
How do you obtain the desired information, that is the exact geographical coordinates of tens, hundreds or thousands of addresses, quickly and error-free?
The answer is given by the Google Maps Batch service combined with our Address4 software. We are talking about an innovative feature that we have implemented to our suite of services for normalization and geocoding. Thanks to the Google Maps Batch tool provided by Address4, anyone is able to upload an address file and obtain a perfectly georeferenced file within a few minutes, i.e. each address will be associated with an exact geographical point, identified by its coordinates. Beyond the uniqueness of the operation, the advantage is to combine the wide coverage of Google Maps geocoding with the incomparable accuracy of Address4 in recognizing territorial data. An outcome that ensures enormous benefits in quality and competitiveness in various business sectors. Let’s take a better look at how Google Maps Batch geocoding works and how we can make the most of a bulk geocoding process.
Ecommerce administrators, research companies, web developers, digital marketing agencies … There are many businesses and professionals who ask themselves the daily question: how can I validate an international postal address? The answer is actually not so obvious.
An international mailing address often represents a nucleus of little known information and therefore difficult to decipher, especially for those who are not familiar with the language of the target country of the shipment. After all, the language is certainly not the only barrier that the less experienced have to face. The difficulties of validating international addresses are of at least three types, all equally important:
The format of a postal address corresponds to the layout and type of the various records. Name and surname of the addressee, street or square, street number, area code, town, country … these items can vary a lot from one country to another, both in their sequence (logical order), and in the way they manifest themselves (whether they exist or not). International address validation software, as we will see shortly, is able to convert the address format from country A of origin to destination country B, verifying at the same time that the quality requirements of a cleansed address are respected (update, completeness, consistency, etc.).
Another great obstacle for those who do not possess the necessary skills is inevitably linked to the language. The international address must in fact be written correctly, in accordance with the grammar and vocabulary of the target country. Accents are very important in this sense: a simple forgetfulness can give rise to misunderstandings that make shipping to the recipient vain, with obvious negative repercussions in terms of budget and result. The language must therefore be managed wisely, without improvising oneself as translator and without thinking that an address written in the source language may lead to a secure sending of the correspondence.
Street address geocoding (or postal address geocoding) is a functionality that allows you to obtain geographic coordinates from a postal address (whether complete or partial is unimportant as long as you use the professional instruments you will read about in this article). Geocoding an address means objectively deducing two fundamental data for several operations relevant to marketing, shipping and searching activities and not only. Thanks to precise geographic coordinates, you can place the position of the companies you collaborate with on your virtual map and consequently you will get the optimal route to deliver your goods. As a result, you will save time and fuel and, in few years, this will repay the company for the efforts and resources that have been invested for buying an evolved geocoding system.
It is essential though to find a system that can meet the needs of anybody who has to geocode one or more addresses in a short time and without any mistakes. This is the point: if we are doing this for fun or as a hobby, we can be happy with a standard application for a smartphone that was designed for other purposes (such as a simple satnav, for example); but when we have to deal with strategic targets or large data volumes, we have to look for more reliable resources that are able to geocode hundreds of thousands of addresses from all over the world. Moreover, this solution will guarantee that the entered data are correct and updated. And that’s a lot.
The normalization of postal addresses is an activity that affects multiple businesses, from e-commerce shops to logistics and transportation companies. Despite address normalization being important for a large number of businesses, the use of address normalization is often unclear for the entrepreneurs and webmasters that, indeed, should take advantage of it. That is why a few companies still struggle to implement the normalization instruments of the postal addresses and miss the opportunity to develop and optimize their resources. Therefore, we have thought that it would be useful to clarify the current scenario and analyze 10 important points to know: let’s discover them, one by one in detail to understand what validation is exactly and what advantages it gives.
1) Normalization requires professional software
The first thing to know is that proper normalization requires professional software to guarantee the maximum correspondence between the reality and the system databases. Despite there being different tools, especially online, that perform basic normalization operations, it is better to trust professional instruments that can provide better accuracy and precision in data reclamation.
The possibility of a wrong shipment should be taken seriously by any business. It is not just about sending an order to a customer or a partner and missing the delivery due to an incorrect address. These scenarios are rare, but possible. The most tangible risk is the approximate management of postal, communication and logistics procedures. For example, due to a delay linked to the search for the correct address. Often a different house number is enough to create a problem for a deliveryman or a trucker. Imprecision is undoubtedly the worst enemy of those working in the shipping field. This is why there is special software for postal address validation. And that’s why this software can be integrated into business applications via API.
In international jargon we speak of API address validation in reference to the set of tools that allow us to satisfy this type of requirement by means of a web service interface. It goes without saying that there are multiple versions of API for address normalization, from those that can be integrated into e-commerce to suggest the correct address to customers when purchasing (and avoid unpleasant delays, returns, etc.), to the address validation APIs for business applications, able to validate and correct the addresses of existing databases. Shipments and search for roads remain the main objectives of API address normalization, but the features offered by a web service of this type go further. Let’s see in detail the services that can be activated with API in a business application.
If Master Data are the intangible resources – computer and not – more valuable for a company, the Master Data Management (abbreviated to MDM) represents the system of administration and care of Master Data par excellence. We are talking about a sector of advanced corporate governance, which, however, is not just about multinationals and industrial groups. In fact, any medium and large enterprise can greatly benefit from the adoption of an effective Data Master Management strategy. This is true today and will be more and more in the future with the exponential growth of IT systems and data volumes collected through manual (call center, data entry, etc.) and automatic / semi-automatic (funnel, newsletter, landing page, etc.). Note the mixture of channels from which the data originates: we should not think of Master Data Management as something that exclusively concerns the field of infomation technology. The advantages, as we will see in this article, are real only if we take into account the set of variables involved.
Data entry is a simple task but it is by no means cheap. Entering thousands of data elements in the form of addresses, profiles or contacts can be extremely costly, especially in the long run, which is why it is important to find a high-performance work system. Although manual data entry is still prevalent and in some way to be expected for data entry, cost reduction remains an objective for everyone, especially businesses and companies that want to optimise costs without sacrificing quality. In fact, we mustn’t forget that the best data entry method is not the one with lower costs: it is the correctness and validity of the entered data that makes a difference, after which they must be cleansed of any errors or omissions.
With this in mind, in order to ensure profitable data entry it is also necessary to take other aspects into consideration, such as the speed of the process (faster when corrections are not necessary), or auto-completion of certain operations, seeing the geolocation of data on a map or the association of a home address with an area code, a province, etc. In this article, we take a look, step by step, at 5 helpful tips to limit data entry costs and achieve superior results in terms of data quality, even for large volumes of information and without the need of external support from a technician.
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