Winning with Eircode - Delivery and Logistics

Posted by Pat Donnelly | Jun 02, 2016

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How does Eircode enable increased efficiency in the delivery and logistics sector?
There are four key components:

  1. Capture and validate Eircode at source
  2. Batch process Pre-Advice file
  3. Use Small Areas to plan delivery allocation efficiently
  4. Assign deliveries to drivers and get real-time updates

1. Capture and Validate Eircode at Source

Unfortunately we had almost completed our task as a Nation of convincing the Rest of the World to remove the postcode field from address forms when we chose Ireland from the Country list.  Now we're sheepishly contacting the Rest of the World again asking them to add it back in (they can leave it labelled as postcode, we don't need them to go to the trouble of labelling it Eircode).  Surprisingly we're seeing up to 6% of addresses with Eircodes even when the form hasn't been adjusted to have a separate Eircode/Postcode field.  People are adding it before the county, or at the end of the town name if they have nowhere else.  You have to admire ​their persistence, and its easier to understand if you imagine how fed-up some people are with giving directions over the phone to every single delivery driver.

So what can you expect if you simply add an Eircode/Postcode field to your address form?  It depends on whether the person entering the address thinks you really need that piece of information.  Most people haven't learned their Eircode off by heart, so when they encounter a non-mandatory postcode field they are inclined to leave it blank rather than get their Eircode.  That is unless they feel this is information they need to provide, or that would be very useful to the company if they did provide.  The chart below shows the effect of adding an Eircode/Postcode field with little or no validation under two scenarios:  1. Optional Eircode form where the user doesn't really see the need for the information and it doesn't look like the form really requires it and 2. Near Mandatory Eircode Form where the user feels they should provide it (e.g. an official application form) or the company requesting it have communicated how useful it is to them in providing a better service to the customer.

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The Eircode rates we are seeing and you can expect are between 7% and 12% for a Optional Eircode form.  The rates for Near Mandatory Eircode form are between 35% and 60%.  For example the Passport office achieved a 60% Eircode rate for on-line applications for passport cards.  Don't despair at the 12% figure, often they are the non-unique addresses that are the most difficult to find.

How does this increase if you deploy Eircode enabled Address Capture in your form?  The chart below shows the increased rates you can expect for the Optional Eircode form and the Near Mandatory Eircode scenarios.

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These figures are based on the experience of our existing customers in Insurance, Telecoms, Retail, Government, Price-comparison websites etc.  You can expect to achieve a rate of 60% for the Standard Form scenario.  The highest rates we've achieved ​are for our SUSI college grant integration, where 92% of applications have an Eircode.

2. Batch Process Pre-Advice File

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​You can upload your pre-advice file to our secure FTP site and we'll batch process the file and return the data enriched file.  It doesn't matter if you are uploading one thousand, one hundred thousand or one million records, the file is processed and made available within an hour and faster if required.

So what do we append to the file?  That depends on the customers requirements, but the standard fields we return are
  1. Eircode
  2. ECAD_ID (Eircode Database Unique Identifier)
  3. Match Result ("Eircode Appended", "Partial Address Match", etc.)
  4. Match Level ("Building", "Street", "Townland", etc.)
  5. Address Type ("Multi-tenant Commercial", "Single Occupancy Residential", etc.)
  6. Latitude/Longitude
  7. Small Area Code or Delivery Zone
  8. Customer Address Format
Obviously the goal is to have as high an Eircode rate as possible, but we can't append an Eircode to a non-unique address (e.g. Rural Townland).  We return the ECAD_ID of the address match so customers can perform analytics if they have licensed the ECAD database.  Match Result, Match Level and Address Type are used by customers to drive their business logic.  If, for example, we have only matched to "Town" level we can't use the Latitude/Longitude for detailed route planning but it is sufficient to plot on a map to view the distribution of deliveries.

The Match Level gives a basic indication of how well we've matched the address, and the Address Type provides a more detailed breakdown.  It can be useful to know if it is a commercial or residential address, whether it is an apartment (not always obvious from the address!) etc.

The Customer Address Format is a cleaned, parsed version of the input address returned in the format required by the delivery company.  A typical address format might split out the address as follows:

ORGANISATION
ADDRESS LINE 1
ADDRESS LINE 2
ADDRESS LINE 3
TOWN
COUNTY

3. Use Small Areas to plan delivery allocation efficiently

Some companies have strictly defined pre-existing franchise areas.  We digitise these areas and send back the relevant allocation for an address based on its latitude/longitude.  For everyone else the optimal solution is to define your delivery areas using Small Areas.

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These 18,000+ areas nest inside existing Electoral District and County Boundaries and usually contain 80 to 120 households.  When we append an accurate Small Area Code to an address this allows it to be allocated to the correct delivery area/driver.  Overloaded drivers can be detected and small areas can be moved between delivery areas dynamically to optimise loads.

Customers who use our Delivery Zone labelling also have a human-readable code to assist manual sortation. 
 

4. Assign deliveries to drivers and get real-time updates

​Our recently launched FREE Eircode app has proven very popular with delivery drivers.  The Finder website is for personal non-commercial use, and is limited to 15 lookups per day, so delivery companies cannot recommend its use to their drivers.  The app allows the user to enter deliveries (via address, Eircode or what3words).

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The driver can view all their deliveries on the integrated Google Maps, get Sat-Nav directions, optimise the delivery order or manually re-order the deliveries.  Notes, including a contact phone number, can be stored with a delivery.  The driver can record successful (or unsuccessful) delivery, for verification purposes the time of day and distance from the delivery location is recorded.

If the delivery company registers with our API they can send the days deliveries directly to their drivers app (We're currently adding scanning capability to the app so the driver can load their deliveries by scanning the barcode)  The delivery company can see successful delivery confirmation in real-time from their drivers.

The process of on-boarding temporary drivers is quick and easy, enabling the delivery company to send deliveries to the driver and then remove just as easily.

Conclusion

Every aspect of this process is made more efficient by the inclusion of Eircode.

  1. Delivery addresses can be captured faster and cleaner if the end customer enters an Eircode in an Address Capture process.  
  2. We can assign more accurate coordinates and address type information and most importantly assign deliveries more accurately to the correct drivers.
  3. The delivery driver can get accurate sat-nav directions on their phone without having to call the customer and waste time driving up and down country lanes.
We're working on a Microsoft Excel add-on that will allow smaller operators to append Eircodes and coordinates etc. directly from Excel in real-time, allocate to their drivers, send to their drivers app and view real-time confirmation.

Contact Us to learn how Eircode can help your business.

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