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What is PAF and why is it vital to UK businesses?

The Postcode Address File, or PAF, is the UK’s definitive address database. Owned and maintained by the Royal Mail, the data is updated every day, as approximately 90,000 postal workers go about their deliveries and make note of any changes. These daily updates, which Fetchify include automatically in our address search and validation databases, will involve newly built houses, demolished houses, older buildings split into multiple homes or offices, etc.  

The first PAF database, containing every residential and business address in the UK, was put together in the 1980s. Although the address information was being collected digitally, the filing system was still on paper, making updates a laborious and infrequent process. Of course, as technology has advanced, the system has been steadily upgraded and these days, the Royal Mail gathers and disseminates 4-5,000 data updates every day.  In recent years, the biggest change to PAF has been a collaboration with the British Forces Post Office to reformat BFPO addresses to match the standard PAF address layout, and to include these addresses in the PAF dataset. 

Why is PAF important? Gathering accurate customer data is vital to so many businesses, whether ecommerce, government organisation, financial services, etc. An inaccurate address can mean your deliveries go missing, a bill could go to the wrong house, you could waste money on paper marketing that doesn’t find its target. Any of these, or a plethora of other issues, will cost your business time in fixing the problem and speaking with angry customers on the phone, money in lost goods, lost packaging and wasted postage, and ultimately, lost customer loyalty. With Fetchify’s simple address lookup and validation API, you can avoid these pains before they even happen.  

Our API allows you to search for any UK address by typing in just a few characters. There are two different PAF-powered options for finding and validating UK addresses: Postcode Lookup and Address Auto-Complete. How do they work?  

With UK Postcode Lookup you type in the postcode and then select the correct address from the drop-down menu.

Address Auto-Complete is our global address search and validation solution and PAF is only one of many different data sources that we use. With Address Auto-Complete, you can start typing from any point in the address, whether street name or postal code. The type-ahead address search tool delivers address results from as little as four characters. Simply select the correct address when it appears. Another benefit to Address Auto-Complete is that you can find the right address even if you don’t know the postcode, for example when sending a gift.    

The Postcode Address File lists every deliverable point in the UK. For buildings that are subdivided into multiple homes or businesses which share a single letterbox, PAF can be enhanced by Multiple Residence data from the Royal Mail. The Mutiple Residence Enriched dataset is available as an addition to the Address Auto-Complete search. If you think this additional data could be useful for your business, get in touch at support@fetchify.com and our team will be happy to help. 

 

Our best in class address lookup and validation API, uses the most up to date and definitive UK and international data sources. This simple addition to your checkout increases conversion rates by substantially reducing the hassle of long forms, increasing your customer’s trust in your website and providing a smoother user experience. The validated address data also reduces failed deliveries caused by customer errors, saving you time and money, providing exceptional return on investment, and making sure you reach the right address every time.

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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