What Is the Difference Between a Billing Address and a Shipping Address?

May 9, 2022

The Bolt Team

It may seem obvious, but some customers don’t know the difference between a billing address and a shipping address. And that confusion can create issues for your business.

This article will explain the difference between a billing address and a shipping address, why the two confuse customers, and what happens when they make mistakes entering them. We’ll also share a unique way to streamline checkout and eliminate the common snags that can detract from the customer experience.

The difference between a billing address and a shipping address

The key difference between a billing address and a shipping address is this: 

  • The shipping address calculates shipping costs and delivers the product to customers. 
  • The billing address verifies that the customer is an authorized user of the purchasing credit card. 

When consumers make an online purchase, they typically fill out one form with their billing address and another with their shipping address. Sometimes these addresses are the same. Other times, they’re different—like when the order is a gift, or the address is formatted differently from the address on file with the credit card company.  

But your customers don’t always understand the difference. And that can lead to mistakes. 

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Why billing and shipping addresses confuse customers

Most customers think they’re just entering their information twice. But what they don’t know is that there’s a big difference between the two address forms and how retailers use the information.

And it doesn’t help the confusion when customers have to enter different addresses on some sites and the same address on others.

For example, someone’s post office address is in a different format than the address on file with their credit card company. In this case, shoppers must enter different billing and shipping addresses—“#21” as their billing address and “Unit 21” as their shipping address.

Then on another site, consumers use the same address in both forms—regardless of differences. This method reduces fraudulent transactions on high-dollar products.

These issues confuse shoppers and stop them from completing a purchase. In addition, the friction leads to shopping cart abandonment and bad reviews. But before we solve these issues, let’s dive into the most common types of mistakes.

Common mistakes when customers enter their billing address

Ecommerce payment systems will reject a user’s billing address for several reasons:

  • A mistyped address
  • An address in the wrong form field
  • The payment details don’t match

A mistyped address

If anything from street names and numbers to ZIP codes are incorrect, it triggers a red flag in the ecommerce system. The customer gets an alert and must find and fix their mistake before completing the purchase.

An address in the wrong form field

Many forms have multiple fields for the street address. For example, customers often type their city and state into the second street address field. However, errors are triggered because of the house’s building names or apartment unit numbers.

The payment details don’t match

When the credit card’s account information doesn’t match the information entered by the customer, this snag occurs. As a result, the payment is declined or triggers a billing error. 

Common mistakes when customers enter their shipping address

Unlike billing issues, which can be spotted and corrected right away, shipping errors run from minor typos to ZIP code issues. 

Misspelling the street name

It’s easy to transpose or omit letters when filling out a form. For instance, omit the “h” in Hearth St., and it becomes Heart St.

Drive, street, or boulevard

Some cities have several variations of the same street name. For example, one may be “drive,” another “street,” and another “boulevard.” Similarly, there may be a Pinehurst Dr. E and a Pinehurst Dr. W in the same city.

Mistyping the ZIP code

A typo in the ZIP code delays delivery or results in an undeliverable package.

What happens if a billing address and a shipping address are incorrect?

When customers enter incorrect billing and shipping addresses, it slows fulfillment and results in refunds, chargebacks, and additional shipping costs.

Here’s what can happen when customers enter the wrong billing or shipping address:

Billing address errors may stop the charge from processing. The payment system within your ecommerce shopping cart will warn the customer of the issue. Customers must correct their mistake or verify that they’re authorized to make the charge. Either way, it creates friction.

Shipping address errors are even more of a problem. If the customer enters an incorrect address, the item is delivered to the wrong address. As a result, you can expect calls from unhappy customers who haven’t received their shipment. 

Customers will then have to track the order and go through your resolution process to (finally) get their shipment. Meanwhile, the item is returned by the person who received it, leaving you to figure out the original recipient. Or the recipient might keep the package, which means you have to make another shipment to the customer at your cost. 

Reducing customer confusion 

Post informational tips beside the billing and shipping forms to reduce confusion and negative comments. 

Here’s a template with tips you can copy and paste into your website:

How to find your billing address

Your billing address is often the same as your shipping address, but they may be different they may be different if you’ve moved recently or used a post office box. Here’s how to verify your billing address:

  1. Your credit card statements show your billing address if you receive the statements by postal mail. 
  2. If you receive online statements, your billing address is generally found in the header of the email.
  3. Your billing address is found in your online banking account or on the settings or profile page.

Also, consider linking to a customer support page, live chat, or phone number that explains how they can find their correct address. 

How Bolt’s SSO Commerce helps 

Single Sign-On or SSO Commerce is a game-changer for ecommerce merchants. It alleviates billing, shipping, and account management headaches. And with Bolt, you can integrate this advanced feature with your current ecommerce platform.

What does SSO Commerce mean for customers? 

Customers resist creating store accounts because they anticipate long, cumbersome registration processes. Rather than interrupting their shopping experience, they opt for guest checkout. 

SSO Commerce helps merchants gain more user accounts and the invaluable customer data they contain. For example, they store the customers’ preferred shipping and billing addresses, simplifying the checkout process and minimizing the potential for errors. 

Using Bolt’s signature one-click checkout, customers enjoy a seamless, intuitive shopping experience. In addition, they don’t need to remember unique usernames and passwords for every online store. 

Instead, they use one-time passwords that provide secure login and a pleasant shopping experience. Then, after their purchase, customers check a box to securely save and store their account details. 

The next time they visit a network store, they can log in quickly and easily using Bolt’s one-time password. 

What does SSO Commerce mean for merchants? 

While customers benefit from the convenience of a centralized login and one-click checkout, merchants also benefit from SSO commerce. Here’s how it works:

  • First, customers check a box saying they want to create an account. 
  • Then, Bolt creates a store account for them.
  • Bolt securely stores their information. Again, this works out of the box, with no additional development or resources needed from you or your team. 
  • Customers enjoy having an account with your store and gaining access to one-click checkout on any of Bolt’s network stores. 

Preventing mistakes and improving efficiency with SSO commerce

It’s easy for customers to mistype a shipping or billing address and make mistakes. Typos in addresses or ZIP codes, mismatches between shipping and billing addresses, and false fraud detection are just a few mistakes that can cost you time, energy, and money.  

SSO commerce helps alleviate customer complaints by simplifying the purchase process. Their data is auto-filled, making checkout fast, easy, and secure. And you’ll find it easier to build your account list.

Bolt One-Click Checkout

Start treating millions of shoppers like returning customers and make their checkout easier than ever.

Try Bolt Today
ThinkShop by Bolt does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. Contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation.