May 29, 2009, 12:00 AM

An Ounce of Prevention

(Page 2 of 2)

“As a retailer grows, areas that were not a big deal before become a big deal,” says Rob Karel, an analyst who follows data correction vendors for Forrester Research Inc. “It’s possible to absorb address re-routing charges without realizing how much you are spending on them. Especially for mid-sized retailers who have experienced rapid growth, by the time it becomes unaffordable, it’s a big problem.”

Fixing the call center

Entry-level cost of the Experian QAS product is $15,000 a year, and for Melissa Data, $2,000-$3,000 per year. Both offer their software on a licensing basis for installation and operation by the retailer and with a web services option.

Experian QAS’s software-as-a-service option is available on a per-transaction basis, so small retailers can get in for a low cost and ramp up as volume grows. Melissa Data recently rolled out a guarantee that the retailer will recoup the cost of the investment in four months or Melissa Data will refund the cost.

While customer input is prone to errors in entering data, that is not the only source of address mistakes. Mistakes also come through customer service reps who can mistype data, misunderstand a customer or are simply inputting incorrect data that the customer has provided. Some retailers have moved their customer service reps to web-based data input so call center errors can get the same red flag treatment that customer data input gets.

Whatever its source, bad addresses will cost e-retailers money.

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