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Drive operational impact in retail cloud applications using Address Validation

Incorrect or incomplete addresses can cause delays, incur high costs to retailers, and lead to poor delivery experiences across the retail journey. In fact, a single failed delivery costs on average $17.20 in the US and £11.6 in the UK1.  And with 5% of all last mile deliveries failing, it’s no surprise that retailers and their courier partners are looking to improve customer experiences by reducing address errors upfront. 

Improving operational efficiency by adding Address Validation into retail cloud applications

Many retailers are seeking ways to improve operations, including accelerating their digital  transformation across the value chain by moving to the cloud. Many of these same retailers use Google Maps Platform APIs, such as Place Autocomplete on their user-facing website and mobile app to assist shoppers with auto completing an address (e.g., shipping address or billing address). Now, retailers and logistics companies can further assist shoppers with completing their transactions by adding Address Validation in the backend to verify if the address entered actually exists. 

By helping to identify and resolve address errors, Address Validation can impact a wide range of stakeholders along every step of the retail value chain. Consumers will be more confident with a reliable checkout experience: adding Address Validation to the checkout flow can help users locate, understand, and resolve address errors. This may keep shoppers coming back and increase customer lifetime value. Retailers can reduce the time and costs needed to resolve invalid addresses. Improving conversion rates, getting products to consumers faster, and reducing support calls associated with invalid addresses mean significant time and cost savings. And delivery companies can create operational excellence, reduce failed or mis-deliveries, and avoid traveling unnecessary miles to redeliver packages. 

Two main retail use cases are highlighted below:

1. Ecommerce checkout flow

Address Validation can help remove friction at checkout or account sign-up. Retailers can adopt Google Cloud’s modern ecommerce platform in two ways and benefit from integrating Address Validation into the checkout flow. This will offer consumers peace of mind that their deliveries will arrive at the right location. 

Build full-stack ecommerce on Google Cloud using cloud-native services

In this approach, retailers build ecommerce backend and frontend capabilities using   cloud-native infrastructure and data services. The approach may involve either building a fully modernized stack or modernizing components of an ecommerce stack after migrating to cloud.

Sample end-to-end checkout flow. 

Headless ecommerce on Google Cloud using ‘ready-to-use’ backend capabilities 

A retailer who prefers to separate backend from the frontend for flexibility and agility adopt a headless commerce approach. It allows them to focus on frontend for launching new shopping experiences quickly and minimize their development efforts by using  ‘ready-to-use’ backend commerce capabilities such as product catalog, cart and checkout, pricing, shipping and others provided by a Google Cloud partner as cloud-native microservices and APIs.

Reference architecture showing how Address Validation fits into a typical ecommerce solution on Google Cloud.

2. Retailers’ backend operations

Addresses play a critical role in the overall supply chain for a retailer. Aside from checkout, there are several other places in the supply chain where Address Validation can provide additional benefits:

a. Retailer validates vendors’ addresses 

Retailers may have thousands of suppliers, many of whom are distributed globally. While onboarding suppliers, retailers may want to validate the addresses of these vendors.  To maintain an updated supply chain in a scalable and automated way, retailers are looking to validate vendor addresses upfront to ensure a seamless exchange and invoicing of goods with the vendor.

Address Validation can be integrated with vendor management software and the existing vendor onboarding workflows. The integration can happen using existing APIs from the vendor management software. Below is a sample workflow to validate vendor addresses:

b. Logistics company validates addresses received from merchants

Logistics companies can use Address Validation to validate delivery addresses, applying address metadata, such as if an address is residential or commercial, for completeness and accuracy before assigning packages to drivers for delivery. This information is crucial for delivery companies to plan the timing for the deliveries without incurring any penalties or additional cost. For example, if the delivery is meant for a commercial address, then delivery has to be scheduled during regular business hours.

How to get started

Address Validation is generally available now, and anyone with a Google Cloud account can access it. If you don’t already have an account, you can start with a trial account for free here.

Set up your Google Cloud project: Learn how to set up your Google Cloud project before using the Google Maps Platform APIs. This page provides additional, useful instructions for managing your projects.

Try the demo: See examples of how the API responds to common address mistakes, or enter your own address to view the API response.

High Volume use case: There are scenarios where companies may want to validate a large number of addresses, including but not limited to the use cases mentioned above. Explore the High Volume Address Validation guide and design pattern, and GitHub project to get started quickly.

With Address Validation, Google Maps Platform’s knowledge of the real world helps ensure addresses are as accurate as possible, so you can focus on building differentiating experiences and improving operational efficiencies for your apps, services, and business processes. To learn more about Address Validation and to get started, check out our demo and tutorial docs

For more information on Google Maps Platform, visit the website.

1. Average cost per failed delivery, Statista, 2020
2. The sustainable last mile, Accenture

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