Because address forms are such an essential part of the online order or registration process, they can often be overlooked when it comes to optimising and streamlining user experience. You might even launch a website with the default forms included with your commerce platform; but optimising this part of the online journey can really benefit your business in many ways – uplifted conversion rates, fewer delivery failures and improved customer satisfaction to name just three.
Innovations in address lookup technology and trends in form design mean that tools like address autocomplete can radically speed up ecommerce checkouts and registration forms. Users now expect these kind of time-saving features so, if you’re asking them to manually complete every address line, you risk losing them to a competitor and appearing outdated.
When it comes to address autocomplete solutions, they might all look the same but closer inspection reveals that they’re not equal in performance and the way they’re implemented can even have a negative impact on the user experience.
Having served many of the top online retailers with address verification tools for over 15 years, we’ve evolved to meet user expectations and cope with common input issues.
Here are our top recommendations for things to check for when implementing address tools to make sure your user experience is intuitive and bulletproof.
If your customer is from overseas, are they still able to auto-complete their address? Accepting orders from other countries is a great way to expand your business so make sure you’re not losing opportunities because your form won’t accept or validate international addresses.
Around the world, some postal codes contain spaces and some do not so it’s important that your address finder copes with missing or added spacing (even if you don’t trade internationally). This doesn’t just apply to postcodes though, some address tools fail when you add a space in a word unexpectedly.
Look up any part of an address
Asking users to enter their state, ZIP or postal code can create obstacles for users who don’t have this in their address (there are countries that don’t have states or use postcodes instead of ZIP) or users who are not familiar with this part of the address – maybe they’re ordering a gift to be delivered to a friend.
A good address finder will ignore errors and inconsistencies in capitalisation and still be able to find and validate the user’s address.
Typos and misspellings
We all make mistakes and it’s especially easy to type the wrong character on a tiny touchscreen keyboard, so make sure your address search can still find the user’s address when mistakes happen.
Consider saving your users time by presenting matching addresses that are closest in location to the user at the top of the list.
Prompt users with clear labelling on the form field, eg: ‘Start typing your address or postal code’. Use words that make sense to your customers, changing the language dynamically if you can detect users from another location, eg: ‘ZIP code’ in the US or ‘CAP’ in Italy.
Complete and up-to-date data
If the address data behind your service isn’t up to date or complete then users may not be able to find valid addresses. Many updates and changes are added to address files each day so it’s important to use a service that’s regularly updated. For more complete coverage, consider upgrading your service to include newly built property information and addresses within multi-occupancy buildings (college residences, office blocks, etc.).
Validate for delivery
A quality address validation service will verify that the user’s address is a deliverable address and not just mappable. For example, PCA Predict check addresses against official data sources from postal operators (eg: USPS, Canada Post, Royal Mail).
With mobile shoppers overtaking visitor numbers from desktop computers, it goes without saying that delivering an exceptional mobile experience is now essential. Test your forms on a range of browsers, operating systems and devices.
Extra validation steps
If you’re making other checks on your form, e.g. to ensure mandatory fields are completed and inputs don’t exceed limits imposed by your database, you must ensure that this is in line with valid address results. For example, don’t insist that there is a building number or company name as not all address have these elements and ensure you can accept the world’s longest street names and postal codes.
With any changes to your online UX, it’s important to test and measure the impact on KPIs like form completions and conversion rates.
Finally, no matter how efficient your address autocomplete service is, it’s best practice to equip users with the option to manually edit their address if their address isn’t completed correctly – blocking this will only cause unnecessary frustration.