Address the treasure in your ‘trash’

“Don’t worry about that bit, barely anyone uses it”

I have heard that statement before and recently a friend of mine got in touch and one of his clients had said something very similar and for once, we decided to question the decision and quantify the decision in order to open the client’s eyes and let them see just what they were throwing away. 

treasure map

A standard Royal Mail address that we are all used to is only a couple of lines long and if you are from the UK, you will recognise how the structure works. Let us look at Data8s and we can have confidence that using this address our letter will arrive at the final destination

Data8 Limited
4 Venture Point
Stanney Mill Road
Chester
CH2 4NE

The Royal Mail use the Postcode Address File®, or PAF, as their address database and it’s this database that companies like to match their address to in order to ensure addresses are as correct as possible and maximise the chances of a delivery getting to the final destination.

The address you see above is not a PAF address; it is just a better-formatted address that we have become accustomed to. It is a condensed version of a PAF address, reduced across a smaller number of lines. A PAF address is defined with the following fields:

Organisation Data 8
Department
BuildingNumber
SubBuildingName Unit 4
BuildingName Venture Point
DependentThoroughfareName
ThoroughfareName Stanney Mill Road
DoubleDependentLocality
DependentLocality Little Stanney
Locality Chester
Postcode CH2 4NE
Dps 1E
PoBox
PostalCounty

Even if you want to use the PAF structure of an address, many places will not support that many elements so this is where people make the decision that parts of the PAF address are not important so they just will not use them. The PAF file at the time of writing is 29,966,670 records big and all the figures used from now are from that database set.

“We have a dependent locality; we don’t need the double dependent locality”.

Whilst the understanding that most addresses don’t use double dependant locality is correct, 156,272 address in the UK still do which is equivalent of 0.52%. It is a small percentage due to the high set count but if you sent 156,272 letters and only 50% of them arrive at their location, that could be expensive.

“We won’t be sending to PO Boxes so we don’t need that”

Working in percentages, 0.18% of UK addresses have a PO Box and that really isn’t a lot. Using figures though 56,685 addresses have a PO Box and actually, that is bigger the capacity of Liverpool Football Club’s Anfield stadium (which, in case you are wondering does not have a PO Box in its address).

“We get the street from Thoroughfare so don’t need the Dependant Thoroughfare”

That is 1.66% of address or 498,735. Just under half a million address that do use dependant thoroughfare.

All those statistics are in their own pot, but we could combine them for some even more interesting statistics – using all of the evidence we have found earlier and calculating when an address does use one or more of these “unneeded” elements we actually find that 2.3% of all UK addresses would be affected, which is 710,636 addresses.

So when we quantify “barely anyone uses it” is nearly ¾ of a million addresses. Doesn’t sound like barely to me.

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