TechBytes with Matt Furneaux, Director at GBG

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“Data is not just a finite commodity. It’s an ever-expanding, scalable, multi-dimensional prism through which commercial situations can be understood, risks can be assessed and decisions made.”

Tell us about your role/team at GBG?

At GBG, the global Identity Data Intelligence specialist, I am responsible for strategy and innovation for our location intelligence solution, Loqate. I have over 20 years of experience working in the location data space, particularly in the retail sector.

In my role as a Director, I am responsible for ensuring that our solutions enable us to reach every customer, whether they’re in central London or in a country with poor existing address systems. In practice, that means working closely with our customers to really understand their future requirements, map any geolocation challenges and then develop innovative ways of tackling these so they can meet e-commerce demands and grow.

What is Loqate? How is it different from other Location Intelligence platforms?

As mentioned, Loqate is essentially helping every business in the world reach every customer in the world, with a single global API for geocoding and verification. Currently, we have over 15,000 businesses that rely on our location intelligence every day, including some notable brands like Hush, In The Style, IBM, Ralph Lauren, Totally Money, giffgaff, ASOS, and GymShark – all of whom rely on us to reach their customers across 245 countries and territories.

Our solution, Loqate ensures that packages from thousands of retailers – like ASOS to Gymshark – reach their end destinations. With a third of our team members involved in Research and Development (R&D), we pride ourselves on cutting-edge tech like Geolocation, Machine Learning (ML) and Data Triangulation to keep end-customers happy and help retailers avoid the costs of failed deliveries – currently estimated to be £200,000 per year, per retailer.

How does Loqate improve customer experience for retail clients, while still ensuring accuracy?

One example of how Loqate leverages location data to improve customer experience is with accurate and frictionless check out experiences. By reducing the amount of effort required of customers during the quote process, they are much more likely to complete. By using our location intelligence we’re able to implement type-ahead address verification to enable customers to enter their address details quickly and easily. Not only does type-ahead address verification improve user experience, it also ensures that retailers are capturing only clean and accurate address data. That results in fewer mistakes and fewer failed deliveries, therefore, more profit.

According to our research, 62% of online shoppers have experienced a late or failed delivery which, in the UK alone, cost each retailer on average over £14. Even then, these hard costs may turn out to be somewhat underplayed, as they do not take into account the damage to the retailer’s brand reputation that poor delivery will inevitably cause.

How has the customer experience evolved in the past few years?

Three words – speed, ease, accuracy. If your product or service doesn’t help consumers transact quicker and easier, then you might as well pack it all in. Convenience is king and customers will pay a premium for it. Businesses in all sectors are being measured against the customer service and user experience standards of giants like Amazon. They want to be able to buy products and services on their phone in the time it takes the kettle to boil.

In addition, consumers don’t view products or services in silo, they consider the brand responsible for everything from a direct offer landing in their inbox, through to clicking purchase and even deliver and in a world of consumer crusaders, brands can be publicly held to account for any errors made.

What different areas can benefit from Loqate’s location service? 

It’s all about data for good. Accurate location data is vital across multiple sectors and business areas. When you apply for a new account using the app of a new challenger bank, an accurate address coupled with instant biometric identity verification will speed you through the bank’s KYC and AML procedures. A homeowner might use the app of a new Insurtech provider to get a home insurance quote simply by standing in the property and capturing the geolocation from their smart device. The geocodes will be matched to the correct address, will have multiple property attributes collected in real-time and passed to the insurer for an indicative quote in seconds.

It’s going to be vital that businesses are ready to serve fast-growing markets such as India and China. We have announced our intention to launch a “premise level” data set for China early in 2020, and we are working on a similarly detailed offering for India. In addition to physical addresses being used for delivery, new, potentially disruptive address systems are emerging. One of these is what3words, a simple way of identifying and naming any 3m x 3m square – anywhere in the world, with a unique three-word address – like ///table.chair.spoon .

This has the potential to be a usable dataset in countries with very poor existing address systems and to add even greater granularity in more mature postal markets. We are excited to be building in what3words’ capability into our Capture Plus service early this year.

What are your predictions on the future of Location Intelligence data?

Consumers are increasingly abandoning high streets in today’s convenience-driven, digital-first world. And, while digital is still important, it is now the price of admission for doing business – it is no longer a point of differentiation or a competitive advantage. The gospel that “data is the new oil” woefully undersells its value.

Data is not just a finite commodity. It’s an ever-expanding, scalable, multi-dimensional prism through which commercial situations can be understood, risks can be assessed and decisions made. In 2020 it’s going to continue to be all about the data, and here at GBG, we will continue to work tirelessly to locate and blend location information worldwide, even in challenging and hard to reach places.

What we have seen throughout the last year is that e-commerce is booming and is becoming progressively borderless, despite geopolitical threats like Brexit or the China-US trade war. Stepping into a new decade, this trend will not only grow but it will become the new normal. To meet customer demand in 2020, retailers need to embrace this change and gear up to deliver local experiences on a global scale.

Finally, though it seems to be building more slowly than earlier predictions, voice tech, and the promise of widely adopted conversational commerce on the “ambient web” will create a new wave of e-commerce opportunities. It’s an exciting time for the Loqate team as we’re already looking at the voice enabled address capture and validation services for smart phones, wearables and home assistants.

Matt is a location technology veteran with 22 years of experience in helping global businesses reach their customers globally.

Matt is a director at GBG and responsible for strategy and innovation for GBG’s location intelligence solution, Loqate. Prior to joining GBG, Matthew Co-founded Global Address (later acquired by Trillium Software) and helped to create a single platform model for a global location validation service.

gbg logoThrough our fundamental belief that the digital economy relies on everyone having access to data they can trust, GBG enables companies and governments to fight fraud and cybercrime, to improve the customer experience and help to protect the more vulnerable people in our society.

Headquartered in the UK and with people in 16 countries, GBG has 19,000 customers across the world, including some of the world’s biggest organizations, from established brands like HSBC, Zurich Insurance, LEGO and Lufthansa, to disruptive newcomers such as Plus500.

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