Thousands of our customers have been visualizing their business data and creating sales territories at different levels using various geographic and demographic values. One of the most common datasets used to create sales territories has been ZIP codes, and we’re happy to announce support for three-digit ZIP codes in our mapping software.
Why are ZIP codes used for designing sales territories?
ZIP codes are five-digit numbers that designate an area for the United States Postal Service. While they were originally used by postal services, they’re now a fundamental part of addresses. This means customers and businesses have ZIP codes.
For some time, eSpatial has been providing five-digit ZIP codes based on ZCTAs (ZIP Code Tabulation Areas), which is the Census Bureau’s definition of ZIPs from the last census. This includes ZIPs for all populated areas. Recently, we’ve had a number of requests for three-digit ZIP codes from users who have found ZIP codes to be too fine grained. As we continue to constantly update our software, we’ve introduced three-digit ZIP code support to help even more organizations successfully map their business data.
What are three-digit ZIP codes?
Three-digit ZIP codes represent the first three digits of a standard ZIP code. The first digit of a five-digit ZIP code divides the United States into 10 large areas, each containing groups of states. These start from zero on the east coast to 10 on the west coast. Within each of these areas, each state is divided into an average of 10 smaller geographical areas, which are identified by the second and third digits. The first three digits usually designate a sectional center facility (a mail sorting and distribution center for an area). From there, the last two digits determine where the mail should be delivered.
Why use three-digit ZIP codes instead of five-digit ZIP codes?
Three-digit ZIP codes allow companies to map territories at a higher level than five-digit ZIP codes. This can be particularly important in the creation of sales territories, allowing organizations to align larger sales territories while still using ZIP code boundaries. Five-digit ZIP codes can be too fine grained for creating territories for some businesses. Logistics and distribution firms also commonly use three-digit ZIP codes to create distribution areas for deliveries.
How we created three digit ZIP Codes
This dataset was created based on ZCTA data, with gaps filled using an algorithm developed by eSpatial’s geographic information system (GIS) technicians. ZCTAs are generalized representations of United States Postal Service’s ZIP code service areas.