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Google is great - but not at addresses

When it comes to digital solutions, Google is often the first stop for time-strapped businesses. It’s easy to see why. This tech giant dominates many different sectors of the online landscape. Whether you want to search for another webpage or organise best-in-class digital advertising, Google has you covered.

However, that doesn’t mean Google is the best solution for *all* of your digital problems – Address Autocomplete represents one digital product where a specialist supplier such as Fetchify is head and tails ahead of the competition. So, let’s take a closer look at why it is not Google who is the best at finding real addresses.


Understanding Address Autocomplete

Address Autocomplete provides address lookup and validation for online stores, call centres, CRM systems and anywhere address information is captured. It is an increasingly vital tool for diverse companies around the world as more and more retail and business transactions take place online.

Accuracy and mitigating customer errors are the difference between lost orders and unhappy customers, and delivered orders with happy, repeat customers. The key benefits of using a type-ahead autocomplete and verification tool include quicker form filling, higher checkout conversion rates and accurate data checked and corrected in real-time prior to it hitting your databases.


A look at Google address validation

Google is adept at handling digital problems and has access to a wealth of address data. On the surface, Google Places Autocomplete, their address verification API, offers clients the chance to use this data to bolster their address accuracy. However, this is all too good to be true.

Internal data sources

Google only validates its address data against its own internal sources (such as Google Street Cars) which produces potentially inaccurate results.

Irregular updates and missing addresses

Updates to Google Autocomplete data is tied up with Google map updates, and for apartment dwellers there are more than 30 million missing addresses in the USA alone.

Unreliable data

For UK, Google Autocomplete does not include Royal Mail verification, the standard for UK address data.


An example of the problems Google can cause

Many businesses may be willing to overlook gaps in the data if Google offers this address lookup for free, but as of 2018 users of Google Autocomplete must provide credit card details to keep using the tool.  And even if free, that’s a false economy when your deliveries go missing and you have to pay for replacements as well as admin time solving customer queries and placating  understandably annoyed customers.

Take this example,  using a website with Google Maps Platform – their addressing data platform – I was able to enter 2 Buckingham Palace Road – and not only will it accept that address but will also give me a postcode for it.

Google Maps Platform allowing bad address

As a Londoner I know that there is only one house on Buckingham Palace Road – and that is Buckingham Palace – which is nominally addressed 1 Buckingham Palace Road. As I know that address does not exist I looked up that postcode using Fetchify Postcode Lookup – and I can see that anything sent to that address would likely not arrive anywhere and is likely to result in a missing parcel and complaints to customer service.

If the website had been using Fetchify Address Auto-Complete I would never have been able to enter that address. It’s real-time checking would instantly show that the address doesn’t exist and instead give options of similar addresses which do actually exist allowing the customer to correct their mistake.


What’s the alternative?

Selecting the right partner for such an important part of your business takes time and considerable trust. However reliable Google may be as a big-name brand, there’s no denying it’s address validation services leaves much to be desired.

At Fetchify, we’ve developed solutions which provide access to the best quality data, offering clients the chance to capture international addresses and verify them in real-time. This ensures accuracy and helps keep your customers happy and your online orders on track.

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About Fetchify

We are a pioneer in SaaS address lookup and data validation solutions. We process millions of data transactions each day for thousands of clients ranging from small e-commerce startups to large household brands such as Heinz and RBS. Our flagship products Address Auto-Complete and Postcode Lookup reduce friction on checkouts, leading to increases in conversion rate of up to 40%, and helps reduce failed deliveries by as much as 75%. Since launching in 2008, we have differentiated by our ease of integration and exceptional support.

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