One of the nasty little surprises on your UPS or FedEx invoices is Address Corrections. What are those? Let's say you transposed two digits on a shipping label's postal code from 92870 (Placentia, CA) to 92780 (Tustin, CA). Ooooh! So close!
... and yet so far (about 12 miles to be precise).
In addition to delaying delivery by at least a day, that shipment just cost you an extra $16.00 or more. Yep - a package that may have cost you 8 bucks to ship will cost you twice as much more to have it redelivered 12 miles away. And heaven forbid if you shipped multiple package to that address since each package is considered a separate shipment and subject to its own $16.00 charge as well.
For two measly digits?
We can debate whether the punishment fits the crime, but let's look at this from the carriers' perspective for a moment. The last leg of any shipment is the most expensive segment for a delivery company. So a package that has been "out for delivery" once already, only to be taken back to the building, researched for the correct address, re-sorted to another delivery truck (or another building altogether), and then properly delivered is done so at a loss to the carrier. Is it a $16.00 loss? Not likely, but in addition to the extra costs associated to the actual transport, the extra handling increases exposure to claims and reduces customer experience (yours and the recipient's). Bottom line - you made a mistake, and UPS and FedEx will extract their pound of flesh, and right now that cut of meat is running about $16 per pound. Chances are your company is being butchered more often than you think, and if you're not correcting the problem today, you'll keep paying for it in the future.
Fortunately, solutions abound.
The appropriate option will be dependent on the source of the error, and whether it's correctable on the front end of your shipping process (proactively) or not (re-actively).
E-commerce - Due to its transactional nature and the likelihood that the shipping costs aren't typically fully passed along to the buyer (if at all), addressing the problem on the front end (i.e. shopping cart) is preferable. The resolution will depend on whether your shopping cart is constructed in-house or a third party (e.g. Shopify). Third party shopping cart platforms often have add-ons that will suggest corrections to address inputs from the buyer when the entry doesn't match up with the platform's Address Database. This will reduce the number of typos (transposed postal codes for instance) and prevent invalid addresses from being associated with the order. For those with in-house carts, Address Validation APIs which can be incorporated into programming are available from innumerable sources including the carriers (UPS, FedEx, USPS) as well as API solution providers. A simple web search for "address validation API" will produce a bucket full.
Other Proactive Solutions - If your order entry / enterprise system isn't relying on the buyer's typing skills, solutions exist that validate addresses at the time of shipping. Check with your manifest provider to see if a module exists that performs this function. This could be a cost effective option for small to medium shippers. For large shippers who batch process shipments, this potential might be limited or slow the processing down and eliminate any cost benefit, so take that into consideration.
Reactive Solutions - Where cost effective, a proactive solution is going to be better than a reactive one, but depending on the size of your company, its programming budget, or the problem's scale, addressing the issue after the fact may be appropriate to prevent future occurrences. This involves extracting the correction from the carrier invoice and updating your internal (root cause) system with the updated address provided by your shipping provider.
DIY - The information is ripe for the plucking on your parcel invoices. If you're using a paper / PDF invoice, it's typically located at the beginning of the "Adjustments and Other Charges" section for UPS or the last page on a FedEx invoice. If working off an Excel or CSV format, a simple filter will isolate the charges. Login, download, identify, correct. (Boom! Problem solved)
Parcel Audit - DIY might be suitable for smaller shippers, but if your spend supports hiring an auditing company, let them do the work and it likely won't cost you a dime for the effort. In fact, it might put some money back into your company's purse. How? Not all Address Correction charges are legitimate. Case in point: "123 Mtn View Rd." might be corrected to "123 Mountain View Rd." and elicit a $16 charge. Did the fact that "Mountain" was abbreviated to "Mtn" inhibit the carrier's ability to make delivery? It should hope not. Should you have been charged for the correction? Absolutely not. It sounds crazy, but this happens all the time and a solid audit provider will get those charges reversed. Even if all the corrections are valid, having an Address Correction report delivered to your inbox weekly / monthly is a more efficient option than accessing the information yourself. If your current provider can't or won't perform this function, it's time to find another provider.
Address Correction fees are an unfortunate reality of shipping, but it doesn't have to be a compounding problem. Even if eliminating them completely isn't a reasonable goal, reducing subsequent occurrences is possible by employing one or more of the above solutions and will save your company thousands of dollars (or much more) each year.
So hop in the DeLorean. Fire up the Flux Capacitor. And go fix the future, Marty!
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