Supply Chain Expertise and Technology Blog by TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson

Do You Have the Right Address? Four Ways to Avoid This Embarrassing Mistake

Do You Have the Right Address? Four Ways to Avoid This Embarrassing Mistake

Address Database

How up to date is your address book? If it’s anything like mine—and I don’t think my book is unusual—there are at least a few listings that are incorrect. That’s not surprising; who can keep track of every single contact address?

Now imagine the same challenge for the many thousands of trading partner addresses that a company must store. Sure, enterprises often have automated systems to support their databases. But even the most sophisticated data management system is only as good as the timeliness of the updates it receives.

The accuracy of your address database is one of those system features that is easy to overlook, but can cause havoc in the supply chain if not maintained.

There are lots of reasons why this information becomes outdated. Companies and individual divisions are bought, sold, and reorganized, for example, and the new details do not filter through to your operational staff.

Sound far-fetched? Think of a situation where a driver arrives at a location only to find that the unloading bay has been shifted to another site a mile away. The driver notifies his carrier company of the new address, but the information is not passed on to the third-party logistics provider that is managing the operation. Such an oversight is by no means rare.

What happens when the addresses of suppliers, customers, crossdocks and other loading/unloading locations are erroneous? The obvious outcome is that final deliveries are delayed or even fail altogether, adding cost to the supply chain. But there are other ramifications too. For example, network performance analyses can be thrown off because the real reason for late deliveries—faulty address information—is not taken into account.

As supply chains have become more global, the task of keeping address databases error-free has become more complicated. Countries format addresses and postal codes in different ways and it is essential that these variations are recorded accurately.

Here are four steps you can take to avoid address errors.

  • Have a strategy for grouping and listing locations. Decide on how you want to organize addresses; by customer type for example. And make sure that the different naming conventions used by companies are taken into account.
  • Set up a process for updating addresses with your transportation management system (TMS) provider. If you operate an in-house TMS, establish a process for updating this system.
  • Set up a process for communicating address changes across the extended supply chain. Every trading partner should be part of a feedback loop.
  • Validate addresses on a regular basis, ideally using some sort of automatic checking system. This can be done by referring to standard information such as the United States Postal Service database.

Making sure that address databases are accurate is not rocket science. But don’t fall into the trap of assuming that such a routine piece of information is current, because if it isn’t, the cost can far outweigh the effort needed to avoid the problem.

- Senior Manager, Global Operations for TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson
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