VISTAPRINT — SMALL ORDERS MEAN BIG BUSINESS
Founded by Keane in Paris back in 1995, VistaPrint is now built around a template-based Web ordering tool for small businesses and consumers. Keane’s foresight was a masterstroke: serving very small and owner-run operations requiring business cards, brochures, letterhead, envelopes, presentation folders, data sheets, note cards, rubber stamps and even holiday greeting cards.
While previously working as an independent consultant for Microsoft’s Publisher desktop publishing group, he quickly saw the value in a template-driven model.
“What makes this a highly specialized niche is that commercial printers, for the most part, simply cannot be attentive to our client base for obvious reasons. Our typical order value is only $30. Considering many commercial printers don’t want to bother with $500 digital printing orders, the VistaPrint price point wouldn’t register a ripple,” Keane points out.
So how does a company nail $150 million in annual print sales 30 bucks at a time? VistaPrint receives more than 15,000 orders a day; with multiple line items, that figure becomes 25,000.
How is this done? Let’s say a stay-at-home mom runs a pet grooming service on the side and wants to obtain 500 business cards to hand out to family, friends and the community. She logs onto www.vistaprint.com and selects a template (or uploads her own logo/artwork), then inputs all of her contact information to appear on the card.
At checkout, she provides her credit card information and submits the order. The job is then sent to either the North American production facility in Windsor, Ontario (just across the border from Detroit), or its mirror-image European plant in Venlo, The Netherlands.
Herein lies the magic that has enabled VistaPrint to grow more than 50 percent annually virtually every year since its inception. Jobs are gang printed using a complex formula, according to Chris Connors, vice president of production, aggregated by such factors as paper stock type, run quantity, finishing (if any) and ship-by dates, among many others.