Address Checks Keep Shari's Berries on Track

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Gourmet food merchant Shari's Berries used online address verification tool Address Object from Melissa Data to help get its products delivered fresh and on time for Father's Day.


Though the company did not have results on the accuracy rate for Father's Day, Lowell Feil, vice president of operations at Shari's Berries, said "we have been able to reduce address errors on shipped packages to less than 1 percent," since switching to Address Object earlier this year. Previously, 20 percent of orders had address errors.


As a result, Shari's Berries has cut the employee time it spends verifying questionable addresses from three hours a day to 15 minutes.


"Address Object allows us to process more orders more smoothly, especially on big holidays when we are taking up to 200 orders per hour," Feil said.


Father's Day is the company's third-biggest holiday, with an estimated 3,000 items shipped. The two busiest are Mother's Day with 14,000 orders and St. Valentine's Day with 12,000.


Shari's Berries, Sacramento, CA, sells chocolate-dipped strawberries, apples slathered in caramel and rolled pecans and other gourmet products through its catalog, Web site at www.berries.com and retail stores as well as through affiliates such as 1-800-Flowers and SkyMall. Products are delivered via FedEx.


Prior to installing Address Object, Shari's Berries would not detect a bad address or ZIP code error until an attempt was made to print a FedEx label. The discovery of an invalid address would require a phone call to the customer to correct or verify the address, a process that could strain a customer service department on a busy day.


Now address correction is done on the fly when the customer enters the order at www.berries.com or by phone.


Address Object is powered by Melissa Data's MAILERS+4 CASS-certified address verification engine, which verifies addresses according to U.S. Postal Service specifications for accuracy. Address Object matches input data against the USPS database of 130 million deliverable addresses.


The merchant also uses Name Object to discover the gender of recipients. Name Object splits a full name into components and appends a gender code using a database of more than 12,000 first names.


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