What3Words – The Who, What And How

Let’s face it, street addresses weren’t designed for 2021. Over the last few decades, the world (and everything in it) seems to have grown exponentially. With new streets and shops appearing in front of our eyes, this means that street addresses aren’t accurate enough to specify precise locations, such as building entrances, and don’t exist for parks and many rural areas. This is where What3Words comes in.

Not only are many businesses struggling to accurately advertise their locations to their customers, but people have been mixing up addresses ever since they were invented. It’s easy to give out a building’s address based on area, street, and building number, but that doesn’t answer which exact spot you’re talking about or an entrance that you should use in a particularly busy area. What3Words is going about reinventing addresses for eCommerce stores and businesses around the world. But how does it work, and is it actually better than tried and tested addresses?

What3Words, which can work entirely offline, converts a 3 square metre area into words using an algorithm and a fixed word list of 40,000 words. For example, ///wedge.drill.mess is located in Hyde Park. With the whole world being divided up and allocated 3 random words, it allows for precise location sharing.

What can What3Words do for eCommerce?

Over the past year, customer and public behaviour has shifted with more and more UK consumers shopping online since the start of the pandemic. Not only has this opened the way for thousands of new businesses opening since 2020 but it has also meant that the use of couriers and delivery services has boomed. With these delivery services being inundated with packages, it is common for packages to end up somewhere they’re not supposed to be. Addresses can be inaccurate and can lead to lost time and money for businesses and a frustrating experience for customers. That’s why many logistics companies are using What3Words so drivers can navigate straight to a customer’s precise delivery location.

In a world where access to quality products and fast delivery is increasingly in-demand, this acceleration of eCommerce is hard to ignore and it means that online retailers are constantly having to innovate and improve their strategies. If you add the festive period into the equation, then shipping and delivery times can double in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This can lead to staff shortages in drivers, supply chain and warehousing roles as cause for concern. Recent studies suggest that 19% of failed deliveries actually fail due to inaccurate addressing or not being able to locate the address. This not only has a negative impact on customer experience but equates to a significant customer service expense for eCommerce businesses.

“1 in 5 deliveries fail due to inaccurate addressing” Source: What3Words research

What many businesses struggle with is the sheer number of similar street names and postcodes. Not to mention that not all houses are numbered and map pins drop in the centre of buildings instead of a specific entrance. The handy app has the power to give every location a precise and accurate delivery address regardless of the local address system.

The urban landscape is constantly evolving, with streets being merged or renamed and new properties being built, but these changes often take time to be visible on maps. The goal of what3words is to create and adapt a geolocation system made for the modern, digital world. Streets, buildings, and monuments can give away the general location and traditional addresses aren’t useful in open areas like public squares and parks or rural areas with little to no signage or official mapping.

The result? More and more packages are now able to reach their intended destination and this is leaving businesses flourishing with happy customers and increasing revenue.

Written byJamie Flett

Google Partner
Facebook Marketing Partner
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