QuestionLast Updated: August 14, 2013
What does your address verification service offer that makes it better than the free one offered by the USPS? (UPS and FedEx as well!) By the same token, what makes your service stand out compared to the many other providers of address verification based on the same USPS data? It's not like you have address data that no one else has... isn't all US address data the same?
So, in comparing your service to a car dealer (I can get the same car at many different dealers) why would I choose your dealership? And don't just say price.
Here are some of the more important reasons why the LiveAddress address verification API we provide might be a better match for you and your business needs.
Faster than Fast
Other address verification services might be fast, and that's pretty good, but we're WAY faster than that. Our service is by far the fastest that you will find. I hope you'll take us up on that challenge. Look around and see what kind of speeds you can get from other companies. Even companies that offer a "local" solution that you would host on your own machine can often not achieve the kinds of speeds that we can get "over the wire" from just a standard machine. We have streamlined everything that we do in order to get the data to you as fast as possible. We are capable of processing thousands of addresses per second (per user) and we're happy to take the time with you to help your technicians take advantage of that speed. If you're only doing one address (or just a few) then speed doesn't matter. But if your clients need speed, you won't find faster than SmartyStreets. View speed samples here or here at GIS.SE.
Delivery Point Validation (DPV™)
We give you the DPV code which can then be used to create a Delivery Point Barcode. If you are doing bulk mailings and want to qualify for the USPS bulk discounts, you'll need the DPV code that is included in the barcode. Most address verification services provide this, but the USPS API doesn't.
Server availability and scalability
LiveAddress is powered by multiple servers in multiple datacenters with multiple providers across the country to ensure fast service. Coupled with advanced monitoring, we guarantee uptime and availability, no matter the load. LiveAddress service scales on-demand: if our existing nodes become too crowded with lists or requests, we spin up more nodes to handle the load.
We know that you are using our service to help run your business so you need to be sure that our service will be available (and fast) when you need it. All of our planning has been to ensure that our service is always available. We have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that acts as your guarantee that our service will be available. The USPS has no such SLA that guarantees uptime. Their API is free and as such there is little incentive to assure uptime. A recent outage on the API left many of their users high and dry for about 36 hours—a potential disaster for your business processes. We don't do downtime.
When you start to type an address on our homepage you'll see that a number of address suggestions are automatically provided to help you complete the address more quickly and more accurately. Just one more way we care. Oh, and the autocomplete is available at no charge. It doesn't count as a lookup when you use it. You won't find that with USPS.
Address failed. But why?
We give back a lot of data about the address that helps you to correct the address if needed. Sure, it's nice to know if an address is deliverable, but if it's not, why isn't it? For example, an address can be valid (meaning it's a good address) and vacant at the same time. The USPS API returns basically a "yes/no" response. Compare their XML response versus our much more informative, lightweight JSON response.
We are nimble and smart. Our focus on our customers allows us to make suggestions to our development team and then make sweeping changes or introduce new features quickly. When we roll out new features, they are included in the service; we don't charge you extra.
We give back the various parts that make up the full address. This can be used if you need to further segment your mailing list or address database.
County Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS)
We return the county that the address is located in as well as the specific FIPS code for that county. This aids in gathering statistical information about an address.
Focus and specialty
Our team is dedicated to providing expert customer service and enterprise-level API support for all our customers: from the mom-and-pop shops to nonprofit organizations and large corporations. Because the USPS API is free, there is little or no incentive to focus their efforts on maintaining the API; whereas that is our specialty. Guaranteed.
Expert customer service
We answer the phone quickly and are knowledgeable about address verification. We can help you with just about any aspect of addressing and if we're not the best match for you, we'll let you know. We frequently spend time finding out what services are offered by other companies just so that we can steer you in right direction. If we can't help you, there's no reason we can't share as much knowledge as we have with you.
We answer hard questions
Our customer service team and technical service staff are exceptional. We are constantly learning more about the complex system of addresses. We have to be experts so you don't have to. To test that, try an easy address like this elsewhere: (100 fake street Fake city, fake 12345) and then ask their customer service why it says the address is verified and deliverable. You will certainly come across addresses that you (and your customers) have questions about. We have or will find the answers for you.
We return the verified addresses in a comfortable Title Case instead of all UPPERCASE. If you are mailing to your customers, they will appreciate this.
Residential/Commercial Indicator (RDI)
We offer RDI data from the USPS that lets you know which addresses are residential or commercial. This is designed to assist you in providing more accurate shipping quotes to your customers.
The USPS License Agreement states: "User agrees to use the USPS Web site, APIs and USPS data to facilitate USPS shipping transactions only. [27 Jan 2012]". We make our address validation services available to anyone for any reason. More information.
We have an open license that allows you to build our service into yours. Try to find another service that will let you do that. If you can find one, then check their pricing.
We publish our pricing right on our website. You don't have to call for a quote or wait until business hours to get started.
For both our LiveAddress API and LiveAddress for Lists services, we offer an "unlimited" subscription. That means that you don't have any upper limits on the number of addresses you can process. That doesn't mean just unlimited up to a certain limit. It means we can process as many addresses as you throw at us and we're happy to do it. Bring it on!
Adding new data and features
We are always improving our service such as giving geo-coordinates, and indicating residential/commercial status. As we find new ways to give you better data, we incorporate into the existing system. There are never additional charges for more features.
The USPS API is free but with a catch. (Same with the UPS and FedEx API)
The free price of the USPS API is only for shipments being sent via premium services such as express and priority mail. For standard mailings (bulk rate, first class...) it's not free.
It's similar with the UPS and FedEx address validation services. Their Terms Of Service state that their address validation API can only be used if you are then going to use their shipping service. That may or may not work for you.
The dynamic approach.
Consider the address 5-7 State St Tully NY 13159. In this address, what does the 5-7 mean? Could it be 5 State St Ste 7? or perhaps 57 State St? What about an address range?
LiveAddress API is a dynamic kind of animal that tries to make sense of any input provided. In other words, it tries this, that, and the other to identify as many possible address matches when the input is iffy.
For this address, the USPS only returns 57 State St Tully NY 13159-3218 whereas, in addition to this address result, LiveAddress also returns the validated range 5-7 State St Tully NY 13159-2496. This whole range was validated because the entire range is occupied by the same tenant.
So, if your user entered this particular address what do you think would be the appropriate response address? Would you prefer one response to another? LiveAddress won't prefer one response over the other as both addresses are valid USPS addresses. Present them both and let the user choose the address that was intended.
Public drinking fountain
For those of you who need a visual to understand the difference between our address validation web service and the USPS web service, imagine you've been out running (or biking). You're hot and thirsty. You know there's a public drinking fountain in the park. You've stopped there before, so you know it's wet, but it also is frequently not working, or really slow. It's not very cold, and there may or may not be gum (or other things) in the drain because it's not well maintained. But, hey, it is definitely water and thus it quenches the thirst.
On the other hand, there's also a very clean, very inexpensive convenience store at the other end of the park that is always fast, and cold. You pay a little for it but it's well worth it for the service and reliability. It's open 24/7 so you know you can stop by anytime. That should be a good visual to round up all the other points that have been made.