Address data validation has many sound business reasons. It allows companies to increase the accuracy of street addresses in a database and keep records in order. As a result, they enjoy more reliable mailings to delivery points, fuller customer information, enhanced security, and many other benefits.
You should note that address validation is a multi-factor procedure. To match postal addresses, software needs to parse and standardize them first. Address parsing and standardization are essential to prepare data for automated processing. All solutions like USPS address verification tools do it.
This article details address validation, address standardization, and parsing processes. Learn possible issues, data processing tools, and how to use an address parsing API.
The Process of Address Validation, Address Standardization, and Parsing
Address validation, standardization, and parsing are three steps of the same operation. It allows businesses, organizations, and individuals to make sure a street address they are about to use is valid. How does it happen?
Step 1. Address parsing
When software receives a new address, it automatically segments it into meaningful units. The tool logically separates the record into components (e.g., house name, street, ZIP postal code, city, etc.). It allows checking whether the address has all the necessary elements and prepares the data for standardization.
Step 2. Address standardization
Address standardization software reformats the parsed address based on the standard guidelines. The common and correct format reduces the risk of duplicates in the database.
Step 3. Address validation/verification
At this stage, the software matches the address record against the USPS standardized database. If you work with international addresses, access other reputable databases. Validated mailing addresses are ready for delivery and further use.
Note that even though we use address validation and verification interchangeably, they mean slightly different things. Validation is only about matching addresses with authority databases, whereas verification is also about checking their deliverability. The address standardization tools like Google Maps, for example, provide valid addresses, but they are not necessarily deliverable. Discover other automated address processing challenges below.
Common Address Processing Issues
Despite being an easy process to set up, data cleaning holds pitfalls. USPS address verification tools and other software can make you lose some details or suffer from data inconsistencies. So be careful to avoid these problems:
- Much of the financial, healthcare, and other personal customer data is legally necessary, and you cannot handle it without customers’ approval.
- Merging two records can cause data loss if it turns out these are two different addresses. Most cleaning methods are not reversible, so you won’t be able to cancel changes.
- When software rejects bad data, you lose the business value of this information. Hence, it’s better to use address parsing APIs that can fix and enrich address records.
- Automated address validation software that handles records in real-time may slow down user onboarding. To avoid this, power web products with an address parsing API that also supports address autocomplete.
Given these common issues, you need to find the optimum way to implement address standardization, parsing, and validation. There are a variety of web tools and address parsing APIs to consider.
Ways to Run Address Validation, Standardization, and Parsing
The choice of postal address and ZIP code processing method depends on several factors. Accuracy, volume, and automation level are the primary ones. Hence, you need to evaluate your business needs before adopting address standardization, parsing, and validation. Consider these options to pick the most suitable:
Manual address standardization
Small businesses and organizations with a low level of automation run address standardization manually. Excel is one of the methods. Although it’s not designed for address processing, it has some valuable features to use, including the STANDARDIZE function. It enables you to standardize scores on the scale using this formula STANDARDIZE(x, mean, standard_dev), where X is the value you normalize, Mean is the mean of the distribution, and Standard_dev is the standard deviation of the dataset.
This simple method works only to standardize addresses. It won’t help you to parse or validate data sets to make sure the records are valid.
USPS address verification tool and other official checkers
The United States Postal Service supports a bunch of tools for address verification, reverse geocoding, and address data enrichment. There are also CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) certified services for quick address checks. These solutions enable you to upload address batches or manually enter a record to validate it. Even though they parse, standardize, and validate addresses, you need to manage them manually.
Custom development of address standardization tools and verification features
Software providers and large companies with custom platforms can invest in tailored address standardization and validation tools. Nevertheless, they rarely do so. Such services are expensive to design and maintain. Compared to custom development, address parsing APIs are more effective.
Validation, Standardization & Address Parsing API
An address validation and parsing API is an application programming interface for layering automated address checks into existing software. After the integration, the API works like a native feature automating all the processes related to address validation. It automatically parses, formats, and runs address matches once a new record enters the system. Currently, APIs are considered an optimum solution to upgrade web systems with additional features, including data verification. The USPS also provides API services, but third-party solutions offer richer capabilities.
Why and How to Use a Validation, Standardization & Address Parsing API
Let’s start with the reasons to choose API over other address standardization, parsing, and validation options. First, APIs are a quick and cost-efficient way to get reliable data validation functionality. You only need several days to connect and configure them.
Apart from that, API solutions are highly multifunctional. In addition to address parsing, standardization, and validation, services like Inkit Verify also verify and autocomplete addresses. You can detect deliverability and provide users with real-time address suggestions to enhance user experience. More basic solutions don’t support such features.
How to Use APIs for Address Processing
Every software vendor shares detailed integration instructions to follow. You may also need to mind specific technical requirements. As a rule, API integration happens in a few steps:
- Subscribe for the validation and address parsing API you want to use.
- Retrieve your API key and securely store it.
- Go to the corresponding section to copy the integration code and paste it into your environment.
- Start configuring and testing the validation and address parsing API.
For more detailed information, check the API integration guides and resources provided by Inkit here. An address verification API is one of our core products.
Inkit Verify as an Address Verification and Autocomplete API
Verify is an API solution for automating address verification and autocomplete processes. Integrate it with web solutions written in any core programming language to make them check addresses in real-time. Verify automatically parses, formats, matches, and verifies address data as users type it to show suggestions. It’s very convenient to increase the quality of database records and enhance user experience.