This best-practice guide from Postcode Anywhere offers advice about the best way to install address capture services on ecommerce websites. Highlighting common pitfalls online businesses can fall into when implementing address validation technology, the guide ensures the customer buying process is made as easy as possible.
Put the postcode field at the top of your form
Users will find it frustrating if they manually type in their whole address, only to find they could have simply typed in their postcode to have it automatically completed. We recommend you move the postcode field to the top of the form, or if that’s not possible make it clear that they can find their address by simply typing in their postcode.
Don’t be too specific in your field names
Although it’s tempting to lay out specific field names for an address (e.g. building number, building name, street name) this can make the process of entering details more complicated than it needs to be. Some addresses have more address lines than others, so it can be difficult to know which part goes where in forms of this type.
Be careful when making fields mandatory
Some addresses have as many as five address lines, while others have as few as one. This can make submitting an address difficult if a specific number of address lines are required before the form can be submitted. For example, not all correct addresses have a street name (such as in small villages), so there’s no point in annoying your customers by insisting they include one.
Allow a user to edit the address before submission
Our address data is updated every day so you shouldn’t often encounter an address that needs to be entered manually by a user. However, no database is 100% accurate and there may be addresses that genuinely exist, but don’t appear in Royal Mail’s Postal Address File (PAF).
There may also be situations where a user may need to alter an address manually after it has been auto-filled. For example, certain premises, such as halls of residence or nursing homes, can often be listed as single premises in PAF®. This can cause difficulties when a customer’s building number isn’t included in the listing. So it’s a good idea to allow a user to update the first line (or the entire address) themselves after the address has been looked up.
Give the customer an optional “company” field
Even when your customers are ordering things for themselves rather than their business, they may want the item or items shipped to their place of work. Having an optional company name field will allow them to enter these details easily.
Allow for non-UK addresses if appropriate
We can provide both UK and International address lookups. It is important to decide whether you want to offer purely UK lookups or both within your form. If you only have UK addresses, or you only ship to UK customers then you can implement just our UK service. If you have non-UK addresses also being entered then there are a couple of options:
• Implement our International address lookup service within the form. We have tutorials showing how to enable the International service alongside our UK service on our website. http://www.postcodeanywhere.co.uk/international-address-validation/how-to-implement.aspx?tb
• Allow users to manually type International addresses. Add a country dropdown list to the top of your form and then manually override the address lookup functionality if a country other than the UK is selected.