15 Dec 2004
My address is long and slightly awkward. I get to find out which firms have short fields in their database, and deliveries aren’t always straightforward, even though the postcode is enough to pinpoint the location. Recently both Tesco (constant server errors) and Ocado (better site, limited stock) struggled to find this place and had to ’phone each time. I chatted with a couple of the drivers and it turns out they aren’t given location maps as part of the paperwork, which is just crazy. It doesn’t surprise me though — while walking into town I often get asked directions by delivery drivers, even to obvious landmarks, so clearly many don’t even carry a road atlas.
Signing up with a map provider (e.g. Streetmap, Mapquest, Multimap, Ordnance Survey) and integrating basic mapping (single scale of map centred on postcode) is relatively cheap and easy, for any delivery organisation it’d save precious time without the greater hassle and expense of GPS navigation gadgets.
If you only want to show approximate location in the UK and need to build your own system, a fairly quick’n’dirty approach is to buy in a simple map (e.g. MiniScale), slice it up into individual overlapping squares with a script, allow navigation via an image map and/or a postcode-to-grid reference database (e.g. from Evox), and superimpose icons (e.g. with CSS for a web application). It only takes a week or so to get something up and running.