Madhuleena Medhi, Head of Business Development in India at what3words explores how companies throughout the e-commerce and logistics ecosystem are using what3words to improve address data.

Addresses can be complex

Being based in India, I am confronted by inaccurate addresses every day. Addresses are often shared with landmark-based directions such as ‘around the temple’ or ‘behind the park’, making it difficult for people to find them – our latest Indian TV ad illustrates this point well.

Around the world having accurate address data is important to the e-commerce and logistics supply chain. With my work in these sectors, I have heard countless stories of delivery drivers needing to make (sometimes several) calls to find customers’ homes because addresses are inaccurate. Postcodes, Zipcodes and other addressing systems lack precision and can’t pinpoint precise building entrances, making it hard for delivery drivers to find the right location. For example, in India, about 30–40% of PIN (“Postal Index Number”) Codes are incorrect 1 .

Why is addressing so important?

Once a customer has added a delivery address to an order, that address data has to be passed between several touch points before the last-mile delivery driver makes the delivery. Therefore, it’s crucial that addresses are accurate for efficient sorting, routing and timely delivery to customers.

Customers’ expectations are also higher than ever. Post-pandemic, retailers compete to satisfy consumers’ demands by offering next-day delivery, specific delivery times, the ability to track the driver’s location and for parcels to arrive right on the doorstep. In order to fulfil these demands and make deliveries as seamless as possible, delivery drivers need to know an exact delivery location.

It’s also costly for deliveries to fail. According to a study by Fareye, 65% of retailers agree that failed deliveries owing to poor address quality significantly impact delivery profitability. The average cost of a failed delivery can be $16.58.

What is what3words?

what3words is a simple addressing solution that makes it easy to find any exact location.

It has divided the entire world into a grid of 3 metre squares and given each one a unique address made of three random words: a what3words address. For example, ///filled.count.soap identifies the exact entrance to what3words HQ in London.

It’s an innovative and accurate way for companies across the supply chain to capture and share precise delivery locations.

what3words across the e-commerce and logistics ecosystem

what3words has become a core part of the e-commerce and logistics ecosystem, working across all stages to ensure precise addresses flow smoothly from the customer through to the delivery driver.

The customer enters a what3words address in a dedicated field or in the delivery notes at checkout

The what3words address is passed to the carrier through the order management system

The carrier uses the what3words API to convert the what3words address to coordinates

The delivery driver gets directions to the exact delivery location via their navigation system

Direct-to-consumer (D2C)

D2C companies are adding what3words at checkout to collect reliable and accurate delivery information from customers. Examples include retail & food delivery companies such as Oddbox, Domino’s Pizza and AO.com. In India, brands like Sadhev, Imagine Online, Interflora India, and TWF Flours have all added what3words to their checkout pages.

“Our constant endeavour is to make the consumer experience as seamless as possible. what3words helps us further improve our delivery services, helping us to find exactly the right delivery location even when addresses can be inaccurate or incomplete.” Interflora India


Companies such as Metapack, Zenstores and ShipTheory are using what3words to differentiate their service and improve delivery efficiencies by passing what3words delivery addresses from retail customers to logistics partners. The Vinculum Group, a global order management system, as well as shipping aggregators like Shylite, Vamaship, Swift, Shipyaari have all integrated what3words into their systems to improve the flow of accurate addressing data between companies.

Last-mile and delivery

By knowing exactly where to bring orders, delivery companies are able to reduce churn, decrease delivery times and improve customer experience. Providers such as DPD, DHL Parcel UK, Aramex and Evri are using what3words to deliver packages accurately at the first attempt. In India, leading integrated logistics platforms and last-mile delivery companies such as Ecom Express, Pidge and Blowhorn are accepting what3words from their retailers.

“what3words has helped reduce first-time failures from address inaccuracy by over 63 percent, even within our first quarter of working together”
Rushil Mohan, Co-founder and Head of Product, Pidge

CO2 Emissions

Faster, more efficient deliveries also have a positive impact on reducing CO2 emissions. what3words has been proven to help reduce courier driving time, distance travelled and fuel spend. Delivery tests conducted by leading delivery partners in different cities around the world show an average miles per order reduction of 23%, equating to less fuel use and lower emissions per vehicle 2 .

At scale, these last mile savings add up quickly for e-commerce and logistics companies. A company that does 1 million deliveries per month would reduce vehicle emissions by CO2eq 367 tonnes per year just by having a more accurate delivery address.

End-to-end ecosystem in India

In India, we have an example of what3words being used in the entire end-to-end e-commerce ecosystem. Jewellery brand Oriana by GRT Jewellers has integrated what3words into its checkout page so its customers can enter a what3words delivery location. GRT also has its own order management system that accepts the what3words address and passes it to its integrated couriers, Sequel Logistics and Ecom Express.

Start using what3words for precise deliveries

To improve delivery metrics, customer experience and operations no matter where in the logistics and delivery ecosystem your company sits, please don’t hesitate to get in touch here or visit this page for further details.

1 https://towardsdatascience.com/economic-impact-of-poor-addresses-in-india-10-14-billion-a-year-11cc97cb40fc/

2 Based on a 23% distance reduction on an average delivery route of 120km per day using what3words delivery points