VISTAPRINT — SMALL ORDERS MEAN BIG BUSINESS
“What sets us apart is the rules engine—the business logic wrapped in code, which has grown over time,” Connors explains. “We’ve been doing this five-plus years, and our volume makes it complex. We’re able to gain more and more efficiencies. We look for those things and we code for them. The only way to get that many orders out the door every day is to make sure what’s being sent to the plant is being sent as efficiently as possible for printing.”
Also, by ganging various jobs, VistaPrint is able to reap the quality benefits of printing via the offset process. About 80 percent of revenues are derived from offset work, with quantities as low as 50, but most primarily in the 100 to 250 range.
VistaPrint’s success has had a snowball effect on the company’s ability to invest more technology dollars and, as the mousetrap improves, sales continue to billow. Since debuting its Web-based ordering system in 1999, the company has invested $45 million in its development. Another $20 million is ticketed for the next 12 months alone, augmenting areas such as:
• Controlling and helping the customer fashion graphic design within their own desktop publishing environment, as opposed to using off-the-shelf software such as Broderbund’s “The Print Shop.”
“We can offer 10,000 variations of design and 50,000 full-color graphic photographs that would never fit on a CD. So there’s more variety with VistaPrint,” Keane says. “Secondly, there’s desktop convenience and, three, we provide commercial-quality printing. We’re employing $4 million UV offset presses to produce postcards for local businesses. Ink-jet cartridges cost a fortune, and the quality isn’t the same as offset or even good digital output.”
In fact, Keane really only counts Broderbund, pre-perforated Avery Dennison cards and “bad clip art” as his only competition.
• Its database system, which reads the Internet-based orders that constantly flow in and seeks similar jobs to gang together, is constantly being improved. Clearly, the driving force behind VistaPrint being able to reap economies through gang printing is its Web-based template system. The template approach appeals to the mini business that can’t justify paying a graphic designer $500.