Northern Tool Addresses Accuracy
By Gabrielle Mosquera
Northern Tool and Equipment Co.'s U.K. call center used to ship its products based on little more than good faith. Until May 2001, the cataloger, which sells tools and equipment to consumers and businesses, had no address-verification tools in place for the U.K. shipping region.
As a result, returns from incorrect addresses (along with shipping costs) began piling up.
"We ship everything from tractors to work gloves," says Todd Wermerson, Northern Tool's president of information technology. "It's very expensive to ship that stuff across the U.K., and then ship it back."
In fact, returns numbered so many that one shipping company gave Northern Tool an ultimatum: Start verifying addresses or lose their partnership.
Northern Tool executives consulted with Royal Mail, the U.K.'s postal service. And based on its
recommendation, Northern Tool implemented QuickAddress Pro software from technology provider QAS. The software's data is based on national postal address information, and typically can find any address in 15 keystrokes or less based on a buyer's postal code.
According to Wermerson, the technology was so easy to install that the company was in beta testing within a week. "We had to do some modifications with order entry and customer interface, but that was it," he states.
Because of the new technology, U.K. returns due to incorrect addresses have dwindled to almost zero, says Wermerson. Additionally, the software's accuracy has enabled U.K. call center reps to shave an estimated 15 to 20 seconds off of each call to Northern Tool's toll-free order line.
The software also is thorough—postal codes and addresses are checked against Royal Mail's own Postal Address File and updated quarterly. Wermerson says it's seldom that a code doesn't exactly match an address, but even then, the address lies only within a three-house range.