FirstLogic Stamps Out Address Errors On Cataloger Cabela's Web Site

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Cataloger Cabela's, Sidney, NE, should see significant savings after it announced elimination this week of nearly all address errors on its Web site through FirstLogic Inc.'s address-quality software.

While Cabela's - which started using the i.d.Centric E-data Quality Suite in July - would not reveal specific costs of address errors, about 3 percent of a cataloger's packages get returned because of bad delivery information, and the costs of re-shipping can cost a company more than $800,000, said Christopher Colbert, industry marketing director at FirstLogic.

"Address verification is so important in reducing this," said Craig Brauer, Internet marketing manager at Cabela's. "You're never going to get rid of 100 percent, but you reduce it significantly."

The outdoor clothing, fishing and hunting gear cataloger found an increased number of data entry errors on its Web site, more than through its other channels. Visitors frequently made typing errors when entering data - and unlike traditional telephone orders, Web orders aren't subject to operator scrutiny.

But now with the data-quality software, "when an order comes in and a customer purchases something on our Web site, they go through the whole check-out process, and that is where we have integrated the FirstLogic process," Brauer said. "In that process, the customer is allowed to interact with the address verification. We wanted to be able to tell customers that we noticed an error in their address, corrected it for them, and they can accept or reject it."

The application catches errors such as misspellings and improper street addresses and suggests corrections. For example, the software easily identifies "New Yrok" as "New York" and corrects a wrong digit in a ZIP code.

The software also compares a newly entered record with its existing customer database - if a match is found, related records are combined, replacing costly duplicates with a single up-to-date record. The online application cleanses data in real time, checking addresses against the U.S. Postal Service's National Directory, a database of existing mailing addresses refreshed bimonthly.

The Web site is tied to the company's back-end billing, shipping, fulfillment and database marketing systems housed in its mainframe. The clean data also can be used for data mining, database marketing and for creating customer history profiles.

"Our Web system is a front end to our catalog system," Brauer said. "An order form on the Internet is no different from a telephone order or an order that comes in as mail order or a fax order."

Brauer said the data is used when the company sends out catalogs and direct mail pieces to millions of customers every month. Clean address data also contributes to fraud protection. "If somebody is trying to be fraudulent and puts a vacant lot in as an address, an address verification system will catch that. The system questions them right there and then, so a lot of times, people bail out."

FirstLogic, La Crosse, WI, plans more improvements next year, including making the system easier to integrate into an end-user's Web application.

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