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Innovative Addressing Technology Opening Up Emerging Markets

Date: December, 2015 --

Innovative Addressing Technology Opening Up Emerging Markets

What we see coming over the horizon is a potential explosion of new markets in countries that today we may not even know have consumers. Just as the discovery of safe routes through the mountains dividing Colorado and the gold mines of California in the 19th Century enabled the Gold Rush, it is conceivable that the evolving revolution in the science of addressing and digitalization will open new markets and create new opportunities for both sales and purchases. Experts tell us that $1.9 trillion worth of goods changed hands on the Internet last year, and more will be sold in 2016! Some of that will go to unexpected places…

But, which places is a bit of rain on the parade, as any direct marketer knows, without product fulfillment means, including a deliverable address, a consumer cannot become a customer. The Internet has created a whole new set of addresses, and an address can be one of many different types, depending on what will be delivered. If it’s a digital service, the “address” can be an email address. The Internet has made it possible for us to find customers literally anywhere in the world. We market, close, and deliver digitally, only increasing the importance of having all those data touch points be accurate.

How much of this sort of commerce is there? One searches in vain, but if one adds up just the travel industry – air tickets, train tickets, hotel reservations, dinner reservations, museum and concert tickets…..Well, on a recent trip from New York to Spain via Switzerland, we made several thousand dollars of worth of purchases (air, train, hotel, AirBnB, museums) and never received or held a piece of paper or a physical product. Our physical address was not important.

Unfortunately, there are still vast stretches of the globe where eCommerce is only now beginning to enter, and it is surprising how it is being driven by the postal systems.  And they are most definitely interested in the “physical thing” sales that you make. 

We have previously discussed the EComPro project of the Universal Postal Union, the UN agency that regulates the international postal carriage of letters and parcels. The UPU also maintains a global digital postal communications network that is used for money transfers and “operational” communications regarding shipments of mail and parcels. Over the last two years, the members have been constructing an eCommerce promotion program that will enable posts in even the poorest countries to provide fast and secure delivery services, and ways to pay for it other than the credit card. 

However, a major obstacle to this system’s success will be the physical address. Many developing countries do not have robust addressing systems, or any at all, in place. How do you as a merchant identify a customer for delivery purposes? After the first rush of enthusiasm by many Posts in the developing world, most thinking that their business would be out-bound export sales, an awareness grew that foreign buyers wanted to see physical addresses of the sellers. A New York buyer of a piece of jewelry offered by a Brazilian seller will be inclined to pass on an offer if the only address of the seller is a PO Box number. 

At the same time, Posts were noticing that there was a growing domestic eCommerce market; that is, people “at home” were shopping online, from both domestic and foreign sources. Many Posts began to realize that there might be more gold “on the inbound” sales of goods into their markets, for which there had to be addresses! Sure, the Post didn’t get paid by the receiver, but the UPU system guarantees that parcels coming from other Posts will have their postage paid. of the first to recognize the address problem, and to formulate a fascinating solution, was the Correios de Cabo Verde (Cape Verde Post). They are installing an “address solution” which is as unique and “digital” as possible. It is called Morada Certa, or Correct Address, and it poses a bit of an interesting challenge for merchants, and provides a potential benefit of permanency.   

In this system, rather than providing a number for each building (which in fact exist only in the business centers of the towns), each individual gets a personal address! Although it’s called a Postal Identity Code (CIP), it bears no connection to a physical place. Issued by the Post, it is 9 digits which identify one, and only one, individual. The number is generated by an algorithm and is based on one’s gender and birth day. Institutions are identified by their tax identification. 

Somewhat distressing to an American or European, but obviously acceptable to Cape Verdeans, the Code number is recorded together with a number of other personal data points of the individual – name, birthday, tax id, mobile phone number, email, and GPS code of delivery address. Where a traditional address is known, it is included. The customer uses this CIP code in his address just as we would use 435 18th St., NYC. It is an all-in-one address: parcel or postcard or letter or PO Box number.

When you send a parcel to a customer in Cape Verde and it is the first time the consumer has used his/her CIP, the Post will send that person (or the business) a notification by email or SMS, informing them that the Post has a package. 

The message will ask where the customer wishes to have the parcel delivered and, voila, the delivery is made! At the time of delivery, the carrier will capture the GPS co-ordinates of the delivery point and this is associated in the customer’s file with her CIP. On subsequent deliveries, it’s a relatively simple matter to confirm with the customer that the delivery point is still good, or to change it, and you, the seller, need not worry about the customer’s having moved. No more change of address issues!        

So, if you are taking orders online and receive the occasional order from Cape Verde, you might consider adding another address data point – the CIP – to your order form.

Wherever you mail, domestic or cross-border, Data Services, Inc. is committed to keeping your contact, transactional and related data elements up to date with advanced address correction and verification services covering 240 countries and territories as well as related US and international data management platform technology and services.

Note: In the 19th Century, Cape Verde was the source of many, many sea-faring men and women who manned the whaling fleets of New England. Their descendants are still to be found in many towns and cities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The population of Cape Verde is about 550,000; it is commonly said that there are more Cape Verdeans living abroad than in the country.