Capita craic on with Irish postcodes

For years there have been rumours around the introduction of Irish postcode system and at some points I thought discovering leprechauns on the moon would be more likely. As a result, it’s fair to say I took the invitation to discuss the new Eircode project with Capita with a pinch of salt.  Nonetheless I quite happily took the early morning train up to Birmingham as I hoped the meeting could finally answer our postal prayers. Having worked in both the tech and sales team at Postcode Anywhere I have lost count how many enquiries I’ve taken from people with Irish addressing problems. The introduction of Capture+ in 2012 did see a marked drop off in the number of issues, as you’d expect, as it allows users to search for an address without needing a postcode.

Unfortunately once the address has been captured accurately there are still numerous issues down the line due to the lack of a formal postcode. Paul Allen went into these in great detail during his presentation such as non-unique addresses and surname clustering which we just don’t have in the UK. Some of these issues aren’t as big as they potentially could be as they can be overcome to some degree by the postman’s local knowledge. However, as we move away from the traditional postie and into the digital age these issues are likely to become more and more pronounced.

So what’s the solution?

Each address point will be allocated a unique seven alpha-numeric Eircode which will not change. The allocation of Eircodes will not be sequential to specifically prevent issues with both capacity and updates. There will be two databases containing Eircode data:

ECAF – Containing just the Eircode and Postal Address

ECAD – Larger database containing Eircode, Postal Address, Geo-coordinates and Aliases

An added benefit of Eircode is the inclusion of X and Y coordinates for each address point. These coordinates will be invaluable for delivery and overcome many issues with locating properties. Speaking to our clients there is a lot of excitement in the market about new opportunities which will arise from the project.

Simon Scriver from Total Fundraising sees benefits not only to their Direct Mail but also to their field management tools. Giving them the ability to “knock on doors that have literally never been knocked on!”

And they’re not the only ones to welcome the postcodes. Jon Nicholson, Head of International at City Link believes the new postcodes mark a fantastic step forward for Ireland. He says, “Southern Ireland is a country well on its way to recovery and introducing postcodes is a really important step which will help it integrate its commerce with that of other countries abroad.”

Even though Eircodes aren’t going to be fully rolled out until March 2015 there are already some clear takeaways. Starting from a relatively clean slate will have certainly made the introduction of some aspects of Eircode easier but there are still lessons here that other postal operators can learn:

Scalability and future proofed – It’s important that the new systems can scale and will stand the test of time. As appealing it maybe to implement sequential postcodes or identifiers based on place names it’s just not feasible when addresses are so frequently changing.

Property Level Coordinates – As we move more and more into the digital age we are sadly moving away from a time where we can rely on local knowledge. Property level coordinates for couriers and many other industries are vital. As traditional mail volumes decline and operators turn to other revenue streams coordinate data for internal and third party maybe an avenue they wish to explore.

Understanding the market – Speaking to many attendees it was clear the problems within the Irish postal system are very different from those over here in the UK. The different problems weren’t purely down to the fact that we currently have postcodes and Ireland doesn’t but as much down to cultural differences. It’s vital that the culture of the region is taken into account when implementing projects such as Eircode and operators understand that there’s not going to be a one size fits all solution for all countries.

Will Irish postcodes make a difference to your business? Do you welcome the introduction? Let us know below.