A perpetual problem in logistics is the same store being referred to under lots of different names. Take this example, "Romeo's Foodland Lockley's", which has been entered under the following names in various manifests:
- IGA Romeo's
- Lockley's Foodland
- Romeo's Foodland
- Romeo's Foodland Lockley's
- plus another 38 combinations...
In most systems, when this happens you end up with 40 different addresses. You could combine them together, but then your customers files will no longer import (or, when they do import, they'll immediately create copies of all the addresses!).
It such a problem that it's not uncommon to see 3PLs manually working through manifests applying "codes" to each address, or adjusting the addresses prior to importing just to prevent duplication from occurring.
We were well aware of this issue when we first started building CartonCloud, we knew that we would have no control over the way in which our clients manifested consignments, so we would need to work with whatever data they could provide. Internally however, we wanted a clean address book with only one copy of each store.
What we ended up doing was building a mechanism we call "Address Strings", which act like aliases for the real address.
A client might provide a manifest which says simply: "Lockley's Foodland Fulham". The first time CartonCloud sees this, an operator is prompted to enter in the full address details - however after this point the system knows that if it sees "Lockley's Foodland Fulham", it can use the full address the operator entered last time.
And, it gets even better, as each address can have multiple Address Strings linking to it allowing any way a client phrases a particular store to be linked to the correct address, which CartonCloud remembers, and allows automated importing next time, plus a duplicate-free address book.
It's a simple concept, but something that has solved a massive real-world issue, and frees up our clients to get on with what really matters.