A new, user-friendly addressing system, based on 3 simple words, is helping to make deliveries more efficient, optimise logistics and transport routes, and enable postal services to reach people who currently don’t have an address.

Where in the world?

In recent years we’ve witnessed huge improvements in mapping and navigation technology. It’s giving businesses a clearer picture of where their customers are and paving the way for new ventures, such as drone delivery. And yet, the central part of this experience – identifying a specific location – remains a serious issue.

Getting goods and people from A to B still represents a major logistical challenge. And in places where neither A nor B actually have a name, or when the destination points are incorrect or inaccurate, the challenge becomes greater still.

Addressing the issues

Addressing around the world just isn’t good enough. Around 75% of countries suffer from poor or non-existent addressing systems. The other 25% still face daily problems. People get lost, business can’t be found and deliveries go astray.

In Iceland, for example, writing just one letter incorrectly in the address could send a courier 5 hours in the wrong direction. And this is in a country that does have a national addressing system. In developing nations, addressing is often unreliable – based instead on descriptive landmarks. And in many townships, favelas and informal settlements, residents simply don’t have an address at all.

Developed nations also suffer when it comes to addressing issues. In rural areas, the centre of a postcode could still be many kilometres from the actual property location. In cities, single apartment blocks often have multiple entry – and thus delivery – points. In places such as Tokyo, a written address can require as much as 7 or 8 lines of detail. And these are just a few of the many examples.

The true cost of delivery

Poor addressing results in inefficient delivery. The extra time taken to locate a destination ultimately costs money. And when you consider that the ‘last mile’ accounts for 28% of the overall delivery cost, the numbers quickly add up.

In the UK, 0.5% of all deliveries fail due to poor addressing. UPS also estimates that saving each of their drivers one mile equates to a $50 million a year saving for the business.

3 words to address the world

what3words is a new approach to global addressing. It has divided the world up into 3x3m squares – 57 trillion of them – and assigned each one a unique 3 word address.

Using words makes for a more simple way of referring to the delivery point of any place in the world, be that a house, an office, a specific service entrance or a collection point in a vast quarry. The address can be both viewed on a map and navigated to, with 100% geocoding accuracy.

A wealth of success

The system is already being widely used by people, businesses and NGOs in over 170 countries.

what3words is helping to transform e-commerce in developing countries by ensuring a reliable delivery system for online purchases. It’s addressing the unaddressed homes of crowded urban settlements the world over. It’s even helping to optimise courier services to remote rural locations in places with a robust – but still flawed – postal addressing system.

Every home in Mongolia now has a 3 word address, thanks to a partnership with what3words and Mongol Post. Global logistics giant, Aramex, has also recently integrated 3 word address technology into its e-commerce operations, ensuring more efficient and effective deliveries, transportation and business operations.

A 3 word future

Introducing a 3 word address is an innovative approach, and a human friendly solution. It offers a quick to implement, robust and scalable way to deliver to any point on the planet. And it means everyone and everywhere can have a 3 word address today.