In the age of Amazon, customers now expect a lot from online retail services. They have set a benchmark in how things should be done and appear to be the basis for what the consumer expect a purchasing journey to be like.

A survey from Bizrate Insights said that 90% of consumers are willing to wait longer for goods just so as they get free shipping and 50% directly quoted that free shipping was more important than fast shipping and 47% that they were equally important. However, consumers who want next day delivery did say they were willing to pay a little bit more.

What this information tells us is that shipping is an integral part of the customer journey. There is arguably nothing worse than paying for next day delivery and then not receiving your goods. Some retailers have stated they have up to a 30% return rate from online purchases (mainly clothing brands) and they can ill afford for that to be any worse, given the competitive nature of shipping costs and the expense on customer service.

With all that in mind, this article goes back to basics by stressing the importance of address autocomplete in every online journey.

What is Address Autocomplete?

You will see an address autocomplete function on most retail journeys now. It is a feature that offers “type ahead” style behaviour so when a user starts to enter an address, it will provide suggestions to fill it in. The aim is to reduce the risk of spelling mistakes and the address autocomplete function will often direct users to select from a list to ensure it even has the right formatting for postal verification purposes.

If we put this into the context of shipping, it validates that the user selects the correct delivery location meaning the retailer doesn’t run the risk of sending an order to the wrong place and potentially losing the customer.

What damage can not having address autocomplete really do?

Imagine you are running a store and have set up a beautiful looking website with great SEO and bring into hundreds of visitors quickly. However, all the customers have to type in their delivery address because you didn’t add any autocomplete functionality.

You send your packages to the wrong addresses and as it need to be returned, the postal service provider charges you a penalty amount. As this is a worldwide business, unfortunately some of those fees are quite expensive.

The packages are returned to you and you then must get your customer services team to call or email the customers to confirm what the address should have been. By this time, the orders are already late for delivery. The orders are re-sent and the customers receive them. However, due to the issues experienced, albeit resolved, they didn’t like the usability of your website compared to Amazon where they never get such problems so start going back there again because they know the brand is trustworthy.

This may sound extreme but entirely plausible in a very competitive digital world with just one missed function causing the loss of customers.

The solution

Adding an address autocomplete function to the website would have cut out the entire problem for your company and eliminated a substantial costs, especially if this happened 10, 20 or even 100 times pe month.

Google have an autocomplete feature which costs as little as $4 per 1000 uses, far less than the expense of incorrect postage. Whenever a customer starts typing an address, it calls on an API to provide the relevant suggestions and ensure everything is fully validated.

Make the most of shipping

To summarize, you can offer the best shipping of any of your competitors, but consumers are savvy and will react to any glitches or missed functions that they have come to expect like address autocomplete. Customers expect good shipping but that comes at a cost to your business so ensure you get the basics right to avoid any unnecessary expense.

Historical Data

If you have been using storing addresses without auto complete, it may be worth it to data cleanse historical address by verifying and appending information. Especially if your database is over 2 years old, and you plan on sending direct mail, address verification is often recommended to improve results and decrease mailing costs. StrategicDB can help you with your address verification and validation, as well as provide other data cleansing services.

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