Trafford-based Dustid uses mobile phone numbers as a substitute shipping address, eliminating the need for friends to find, store or input any shipping details when buying gifts online.

Speeding up the checkout process will increase customer conversion rates for Greater Manchester's e-commerce SMEs, explains CEO Michael Livingstone. He envisions the tech start-up as "the world's address book", providing organisations and their customers with a simple, accurate and efficient way to address any online form or checkout order.

Why did you apply for the GMCA Foundational Economy Innovation Fund?

As a bootstrapping start-up, funding and resources are always limited. One of the good things about this fund was that it was aimed at organisations or businesses that were trialling new ideas or needed help to get from a pre-seed stage to the next level. This was very attractive to us, because we saw it would give us the opportunity to build the MVP (minimum viable product), gain some traction, and generate the metrics that would underpin our proposition to an investor.

Tell us about your project  

The Dustid platform provides local businesses with a digital tool that makes their online checkout process faster, more efficient, and easier to use – increasing the number of customers they convert.

Research confirms that people hate completing online checkouts, with online retailers losing on average seven out of 10 customers due to slow, clunky checkouts. One of the biggest frustrations is the shipping address section, so we wanted to simplify how a buyer inputs the details of someone they’re buying a gift for. Rather than customers having to try to find, or ask for, the postal address of friends or family members – and the stats show that 80% of us don’t have immediate access to this info – Dustid uses the buyer’s mobile phone contact list, instead of the postcodes approach that’s widely in use, to distribute the delivery address securely and accurately to the retailer.

By making it simple for online shoppers to get through the checkout, we’re giving SMEs a checkout optimisation tool that helps them convert more customers and helps them compete against the bigger brands, who have mastered online retail.

What successes have you had to date?

The grant has allowed us to accelerate our development and to gain traction. We've been able to build our MVP and complete successful trials,  numerous retailers in Trafford are expressing an interest, and we’ve built an app for iOS and Android that's available in the app stores. We’ve trained retailers, supporting them to install the Woo-commerce integration kit into their websites, and we're now looking to build additional integration kits for the other e-commerce platforms that retailers use. The team and I are delighted with how things are progressing so far.

What does the future hold for the project?

Address verification is a multimillion-pound industry, that revolves around how many addresses you process. For us success means processing more addresses than our competitors, who provide postcode look-up tools. We're aiming to grow beyond Trafford, so if we were fortunate enough to receive phase two funding, we’d want to expand across Greater Manchester and scale the product from there.

We’re driven by the desire to help as many friends and family members maintain and improve their connections. There are times when all of us think to ourselves Oh, I need to send that birthday card or Christmas present’, but very often something comes along and stops us from doing it. If Dustid can remove just one of those roadblocks and make it easy for you to send the item, then we’ve achieved our goal. ‘Just get it done and dusted’, was what my mother-in-law used to say, and that’s what we’re striving to achieve.