Savvy Ecommerce Buyers Know Their Addresses

Posted on September 11, 2009. Filed under: Amazon, eBay, Paypal, Tips - for the Ecommerce Buyer | Tags: , , , , , |


Want to be a savvy ecommerce buyer who receives mail order packages promptly?  The first step is to “know your address.”


Address Terms Defined

Ship To Address: this is the address where you want your package to be delivered.  If you are ordering an item as a gift for someone and want the package delivered directly to the gift recipient then you would include their address in the Ship To address section of the order.

Bill To Address: this address term can be defined as being the address where you want a copy of the invoice to be sent (if the Ship To address is a gift address)  but typically, the “bill to” address is where you receive your credit card statement.  When mail order companies process your credit card payment, they have to input the billing address you provide as part of the verification process for the charge to go through.  Specifically, the digits of your street address and your zip code number are used by the credit card company to verify that you have given correct information to the merchant. 

Give the online merchant the wrong Bill To address information and your order could be cancelled or delayed since the credit card processor will tell the merchant that the information you provided does not match what is on file.  That sends a red flag to the merchant.


Giving a Good Address

When you provide your Bill To address, it is important that you supply the correct address (where your credit card statement is mailed to) and it is most important that the street address number and the zip code be correct as those are the two numbers used for credit card verification of the address.

Inputting a correct “Ship To” address is critical to ensure a timely delivery.  The merchant can only input the address you supply.  If you want the package delivered to your home, you of course know where you live.  But you are not the one delivering the package so you want to make sure the carrier knows where you live!  The company you order from will most likely ship via the postal service, UPS, or FedEx and all of these carriers have address databases.  As a savvy buyer, you want to provide the merchant with your shipping address exactly as it appears in the address database.  This helps to decrease the possibility of error and helps to ensure prompt delivery.

To know how your address appears in the database, you can use the U.S. postal website.  Go to

Click on the red button titled “Find a Zip Code”

Fill in all the required fields and then hit the SUBMIT button.  The address returned to you will be the address as it appears in the database.  Sometimes the word “Drive” is abbreviated “Dr” and sometimes it is spelled out.  And you’ll receive your zip+4 zip code. 

Sometimes, although not very often, when you hit the submit button you’ll get an error message back telling you that the address does not exist.  If that happens, then just try spelling out the word “street” instead of using the abbreviation “St”, for example.  After a few tries if you still receive the error message then you’ll want to call or make a trip to your local post office and ask them to assist you in determining your address exactly as it appears in the database. 

Informed now about your “correct” address, as it appears in the databases, makes you a savvy ecommerce buyer.

Editing Stored Addresses or Adding a New Address with a Payment Service Like PayPal 

When using a payment service such as PayPal, you have information stored in your account profile.  If you want to change your stored address (especially now that you know your “correct” address as it appears in the databases) or if you want to add a new address where you want your items delivered then you will want to make those changes directly with the payment service like PayPal. 

It is never a good idea to make a PayPal payment and then contact the merchant separately to supply a different shipping address.  Doing so increases the risk for the seller (and thus you may find your order cancelled) and also increases your risk that the seller will ship the item to the address you supplied before you are able to contact them with a different address.

Changing your address is a simply process with PayPal.  Under the “My Account” tab there is an option to click on “Profile” where you can add or edit your street address, among other things.


Ecommerce buyers have every right to expect their items to be delivered in a timely manner and received in good condition.  And a savvy ecommerce buyer is one who does their part to assist the seller and the carrier in those efforts by knowing their address and communicating that correct address to the merchant.

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3 Responses to “Savvy Ecommerce Buyers Know Their Addresses”

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Some ecommerce vendors require that your shipping address be registered with the credit card you’re using for payment. This is just another level of seller protection, probably to prevent the use of stolen credit card numbers. You should be able to call your credit card company and ask them to add an alternate address to your information. This is tremendously useful if you (like me) usually ship items to a separate mailbox like the UPS Store or Mailboxes Etc., a PO Box, or a work address. Not many sellers require this, but I’ve encountered it on many occasions and just make a point of registering my preferred delivery address with my credit cards. takes you straight there… Tip: not all fields are really mandatory. I usually copy & paste the street name and put in the 5 digit zip. Not only gives me the zip+4, it also tells me right away if the address is bogus.

Some addresses look wacky as they are written like “Rte 5 dirt road” but then they check out using that tool. I always use it.

Did the mystery ‘dead mail recovery’ package ever show up btw?

Thanks for the direct link.

Unfortunately, no news yet about the “dead mail recovery” package. The recipient did receive the 2nd package I sent but no news yet on the first package. I think it truly died and has gone to postal heaven somewhere.

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