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I am thinking, why ask for shipping address at all and safe the confusion. Just have 1 place to enter the address, which is both the shipping and billing address.
Does this make sense?
For me (and I suspect I am far from alone) it is imperative that any e-commerce site I use allows for shipping to other than the billing address and allows for distinct addresses based on shipping method.
Why? We live in a rural area with no USPS delivery. Our PO Box is actually in a different town than our physical address (about 10 miles away). If there is a comment box on the order page I can specify, "No mail delivery at physical address. If by US Postal ship to PO Box. UPS, FedEx, etc. ship to physical address."
Lack of this functionality has cost a lot of vendors sales in my case. It took me exactly twice trying to track down a package to give up on even trying to consummate a purchase that doesn't allow for this.
Even so (like Christmas this year) it sometimes gets screwed up...
Why do sites do it? My guess for most cases would be shopping cart software that offers alternative addresses the merchat cannot, or doesn't know how to, turn the option off.
but doesn't shipping to the non-billing address open yourself to fraud?
Yes, it does. But it is only one of the many potential red flags. There are many valid orders that request/require a different billing/shipping address, so you'll be throwing away good sales if you don't allow it.
I'd say the usability/fraud balance is tilted heavily towards allowing shipping to addresses other than the billing address.
About 30% of my holiday orders are shipped to a place other than the billing address.