Infobox Dotcom company
company_name = VistaPrint Limited
company_type = Public (nasdaq|VPRT)
foundation = 2000
founder = Robert Keane
location_city = Hamilton, Bermuda
location_country = Bermuda
locations = subsidiaries in Canada (printing factory), France, Germany, Jamaica (customer service), Japan, Netherlands (printing factory), Spain (European headquarters), Switzerland (R&D), USA
area_served = Global, customers served in over 120 countries
key_people = Robert Keane (CEO); Wendy Cebula President - VistaPrint North America; Janet Holian President - VistaPrint Europe; Trynka Shineman (CMO)-VistaPrint North America; Nick Ruotolo (CMO)-VistaPrint Europe; Don Nelson (CIO)
industry = printing
products = Business Cards, Websites, Postcards, Magnets, Car Door Magnets, Invitations, Announcements, Hats T-shirts, creative services, etc.
revenue = increase US$400.7 million (FY2008)
net_income = increase US$39.8 million (FY2008, GAAP)
num_employees = increase 1,466 (as of June 30, 2008)
homepage = []
website_type = e-commerce
language = English (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, USA), Danish (Denmark), Dutch (Netherlands, Belgium), French (Canada, Belgium, France, Switzerland), German (Germany, Switzerland), Italian (Italy), Japanese (Japan), Norwegian (Norway), Polish (Poland), Spanish (Spain, USA), Swedish (Sweden)
launch_date = 2000

VistaPrint is the world's largest online print shop with 15 million customers, [cite news|url=|title=Case study: VistaPrint offers ‘opt-down’ option
publisher=BtoB The Magazine for Marketing Strategists
] "over 90 percent of the online printing market",cite news|url=|title=Think Gutenberg 2.0|publisher=The Boston Globe] and 3.5 billion free business cards printed to date in its long-running viral marketing offer.cite news|url=|title=Building a Brand Name, via Business Cards|publisher=The New York Times|date=August 20, 2007] [cite news|url=|title=Virtual business cards churn out real business profits|publisher=The Indian Express] VistaPrint total revenues have grown from $6.1 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2001 to $400.7 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2008. [ [ VISTAPRINT LTD (VPRT) 10K - filed 8/29/2008] ]

The company is an online supplier of printed and promotional materials as well as marketing services to small businesses (often referred to as SOHO) and consumers. In the 26th annual GAM 101 listing, the company is the 40th largest (by revenue) and the 4th fastest growing printing company in North America. It is also the 6th largest public company (by market cap). [cite news|url=|title=GAOnline 101 Top North American Printers|publisher=Graphic Arts Monthly] According to a survey, the domain enjoyed 7,556,490 visits in June 2008. This was almost 50 times more than fedex (163,989) during the same period. [ [ SnapShot of (rank #13,572), (#235) - Compete] ]

Based on its most recent financials (for FY 2008, ending June 30, 2008), the company enjoyed the following notable metrics relative to its peers: 39% (revenue from outside the US), 65% (revenue from repeat customer purchases), 57% (year on year growth), 33,000 (average daily order volume), 4.5 million (new customers added) [ [ VistaPrint Reports 2008 Fourth Fiscal Quarter and Full Fiscal Year Financial Results] ]


Based in Hamilton, Bermuda, VistaPrint employs over 1,400 employees globally in its offices and printing facilities. The company’s US offices are located in Lexington, Massachusetts, while its European offices are in Barcelona. Its two printing facilities, which total over 200,000 square feet of production space, are located in Windsor, Ontario and Venlo, the Netherlands. VistaPrint uses patented technology to aggregate and print large numbers of customized orders in its automated production facilities in North America and Europe. [ [,976,798.PN.&OS=PN/6,976,798&RS=PN/6,976,798 Patent 6,976,798: "Method for processing aggregate print jobs"] ] This technology enables VistaPrint to print an average of 30,000 orders daily.

Orders for customers in North America are printed in the company’s plant in Windsor, Ontario [cite news|url=|title=Plant Expansion Creates 100 Jobs|publisher=Windsor Star|date=May 14 2008] .

European and Asia Pacific orders that are placed by consumers are manufactured by VistaPrint B.V. in Venlo, the Netherlands [cite news|url=|title=VistaPrint Expands European Printing and Distribution Plant|publisher=Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency|date=April 9 2008] .

The company’s customer service center, VistaPrint Jamaica Limited, is headquartered in Montego Bay, Jamaica and is staffed by company employees since its doors opened in November 2003 [cite news|url=|title=VistaPrint Opens Call Centre in MoBay|publisher=Jamaica Gleaner|date=November 21 2003] .


VistaPrint was originally founded in Paris, France in 1995 by current President and CEO Robert Keane, immediately following his graduation from INSEAD Business School. Keane was interested in closing what he perceived as a gap in the printing industry’s market with regard to the micro or small business, and developed that plan while in school. Because traditional print shops typically generated orders only in the thousands, something many small businesses could not afford, Keane perceived a potential area for growth with short run, high volume printing. Thirteen years later that gap has been recognized by a number of retailers, including Staples and OfficeMax, but VistaPrint still remains as one of the leading suppliers. Using advanced technology to group similar orders in large groups, VistaPrint produces large numbers of orders in short runs. This allows for consumers to get quantities in low volumes, as low as ten for example, rather than thousands. Using the Internet as a medium, graphic design is offered through online design studios. Anyone can then design a product and order it through the site. These processes and manufacturing methods have been incorporated across the company’s vast product line. [cite news|url=|title=Vistaprint — Small Orders Mean Big Business|publisher=Printing Impressions|date=November 12008]

Move to US and IPO

Moving to Massachusetts in 2000, the company needed to attract software and marketing talent, as well as venture capital. It succeeded in doing all three.Having to survive the dot com bubble bursting, at one point the company’s staff was cut from 70 to 20, but in 2001 the company finally started turning a profit. [cite news|url=|title=Think Gutenberg 2.0|publisher=Boston Globe|date=May 18 2007] Originally starting with business cards as its only product but then expanding to postcards, letterhead, stamps, and return address labels, the company started to see better profits as more and more consumers bought products online. In September 2005, the company went public with a successful initial public offering. Now publicly traded on the NASDAQ, VistaPrint has consistently seen growth rates in the 50-60% range, according to its earnings statements. [cite news|url=|title=VistaPrint Chases Away Gloom|publisher=BusinessWeek|date=January 252007] All of this growth has been organic, as the company has not made any acquisitions since its IPO. Working to expand and focus on markets outside of the U.S, VistaPrint opened a European office in Barcelona, Spain in September 2006.

Economics of Printing & the VistaPrint Process

Designing and printing documents, or putting graphics and the typeset word to paper, has been done for centuries. While presses have evolved and graphic design and printing technologies have improved, the basic concept is still the same: graphic designers create a design and printers print it.

In terms of production, it's typical to use offset printing. One of its key aspects relates to economies of scale with unit cost decreasing as the print run increases. High volume industrial printing, such as packaging and magazines, achieves very low unit costs. Low volume commercial printing, as practiced by a local print shop, has relatively high unit costs. With decreasing unit cost with volume, offset printing has a low marginal cost: for any given print run, printing one more is relatively inexpensive. It's also uneconomic to print very small quantities, because the unit cost is so high. Digital printing is a development that allows printing in very small quantities, from 1 upwards. [ [ digital vs. offset printing] ] Digital printing has a different cost/volume relationship with no economies of scale: every copy will cost the same. Digital printing is uneconomic for long runs, and offset printing and digital printing coexist. [ [ How Offset Printing Works] ] [ [ What is Offset Printing?] ] [ [ Everything about Offset Printing] ]

While the principal factor driving unit cost in offset printing is volume, the other key issue is changeover. Each printed job requires plates, paper and inks. Changing any or all of these items between each print run involves labor, time and wastage which contributes to higher unit costs. Unit costs can be reduced by minimizing the required changes and/or using presses which have faster changeover. [ [ New Lithrone Press with Fast Change-over] ] [ [ Print and Packaging - Improve Your Process] ] Computer to plate (CtP) is a relatively new development which reduces plates changeover. [ [ What is Computer to Plate?] ] Larger, faster (and very expensive) industrial offset presses are more efficient (for printing and changeover) and result in lower unit costs. Small (inexpensive) presses are less efficient and result in higher unit costs. Capital investment is therefore another way of reducing unit costs, providing you have enough work to maintain high capacity utilization. [ [ Handbook of Print Media] ]

As an industry, commercial printing is highly fragmented with thousands of small print shops all over the world. [ [ Commercial Printing - Industry Overview] ] Each of these is serving a relatively small number of customers, printing in relatively small quantities. With fewer customers, it's more likely that the print jobs are heterogeneous, with high variation (in paper, inks, type of job, length of print run) between jobs. This disaggregation results in frequent and time-consuming changeovers, and low volume print runs. Small print shops will typically have a cheaper, less efficient printing press. Taken together, these factors result in relatively high unit costs.

At the front-end, the recent wave of inexpensive desktop publishing software made design and printing more accessible by enabling self-service printing. Products like PageMaker, PagePlus, The Print Shop and Microsoft Publisher allowed people to act as their own designer and save time and money. While several of these products support high-end printing, most users simply printed to their own inkjet printer or laser printer. [ [ What is Desktop Publishing?] ] [ [ Desktop Publishing] ]

This is where VistaPrint comes in. Applying the principles of mass production to printing, VistaPrint has succeeded in using the presses and processes of industrial printing for short-run commercial printing, while achieving units costs close to that of industrial printing. [ VistaPrint - Web Masters] Using its proprietary technologies, VistaPrint has managed to "shift the conventional cost-volume curve", so that relatively short runs are still relatively inexpensive. This is a major competitive advantage, especially as the company has patented many aspects of this ground-breaking process. [ An IPO That Might Print You Some Money] [ [ VistaPrint Limited - Disrupting the Print Industry] ] [ [ 2006: A Year in Print] ]

It does this by enabling self-service design, proofing and ordering at the front-end (via the web), and controlling printing, cutting, packing and dispatching at the back-end (at the printing plant). The key aspects of the process are system integration, aggregation, standardization and automation.

System integration means that VistaPrint's proprietary process involves multiple software components, and the management of multiple production components, in an end-to-end production workflow from "click to ship". [ [ VistaPrint Grows] ] VistaPrint is vertically integrated with two large production facilities, one for North America in Windsor, Ontario [ [ At the Forefront of Innovation - Windsor, Canada] ] and one for Europe in Venlo, Netherlands. [ [ At the Forefront of Innovation - Venlo, the Netherlands] ] [ [ VistaPrint Announces Opening of North American Printing Plant] ] This allows the company full control over the entire production process, and allows it to invest in the most efficient presses (such as the MAN Roland 700) and technologies as part of its printing assembly line. [ [ MAN Roland 700] ] [ [ VistaPrint Closes $52 million Equity Financing] ]

Aggregation means that VistaPrint processes thousand of orders, from millions of customers all over the world, through its web site. Because of the high volume of orders, there is considerable homogeneity. Jobs can therefore be gang printed using a complex formula based on such factors as type of job, paper stock type, run quantity, finishing (if any) and ship-by dates, among many others.cite news|url= |title=Vistaprint — Small Orders Mean Big Business|publisher=Printing Impressions|date=November 12008] [ Gang Run] ] Because of the high volume of orders, VistaPrint achieves high utilization of its presses.

Standardization is the way that VistaPrint minimizes the proliferation of user selectable options typical in the low volume commercial printing world. Standardization increases homogeneity. VistaPrint caters for the most popular types of printed materials, such as business cards or postcards. And within each category, it supports a specific size, paper stock and ink colors. This results in higher numbers of similar jobs which can be ganged together. It also results in faster changeovers because there's less need to change paper or inks between jobs. [ VistaPrint - Web Masters] ]

Automation means that VistaPrint uses sophisticated Computer Integrated Manufacturing techniques to minimize human intervention and labor costs. [ [ VistaPrint - Manufacturing] ] Using VistaPrint's browser-based desktop publishing environment, instead of off-the-shelf software, every customer acts as his own designer and proof-reader. Therefore all jobs can be routed for printing without further intervention. Through capital investment in the latest equipment (for printing, cutting, packing, and shipping) the entire printing process can be computer/software controlled. The printing is done in a single pass on state of the art, automated, high-volume, large format professional quality presses. Once printed, the products are cut down to size using a computerized robotic cutter, assembled, packaged and addressed using proprietary software driven processes, and shipped to the customer. [ [ Interview: Paul Tasker] ]

In a form of mass customization using as little as 60 seconds of production labor per order versus an hour or more for traditional printers, VistaPrint is able to print orders faster and at lower costs than traditional printers. Catering to the small business audience that only wants products in small quantities (such as 250 business cards), it has found an audience previously shut out of the process by the high costs and poor quality of typical print shops.

Because of its low labor and production costs, VistaPrint achieves low unit costs, which allows it to profitably serve very small customers. The process also achieves very low marginal cost for both incremental quantities (500 business cards instead of 250) and incremental orders (another business card order, or a set of address labels). This is the key enabler of VistaPrint's free business cards offer, a long-running viral marketing campaign, as the unit cost of any one free business cards order is very small. It also means the process becomes more profitable when a customer upgrades quantities, or adds another product. VistaPrint's process results in a virtuous circle where high volumes of customers drive down unit costs, and lower unit costs allows the company to charge lower prices to attract even more customers.

VistaPrint started with business cards, and, as the company grew, applied the same automated processes to offer a wide range of printed materials including fliers, postcards, holiday cards and so on. Subsequently, the company has managed to adapt many of these same technological and automated advances to suit other non-traditional printed products, such as T-Shirts, hats, lawn signs, car door magnets, and pens.

Business Units Established

In May 2008 the company changed its organizational structure to consist of two geographically-focused business units, one in North America and the other in Europe. The North American unit will be led by President - VistaPrint North America Wendy Cebula, who was formerly the chief operating officer; former Chief Marketing Officer Janet Holian has been promoted to the position of president - VistaPrint Europe and will lead the European team from Barcelona, Spain. [cite news|url=|title=VistaPrint restructures, names Wendy Cebula president|publisher=Mass High Tech|date=May 22 2008] [cite news|url=|title=VistaPrint, Lexington|publisher=Boston Globe|date=May 14 2008] .


VistaPrint has been active, since its inception, in applying for a large number of patents for various aspects of its proprietary technology platform, and one of its early hires was an in-house patent attorney. [ [ The Patented Path To Profits] ] The company recognizes that developing and protecting its intellectual property creates additional value in the company, and acts as a business moat to deter competitors. So far, VistaPrint has secured 15 issued patents [ [ Google Patents Showing: Issued Patents] ] and has applied for almost 40 more. [ [ Google Patents Showing: Applications] ] The company has described its objective as a "minefield of patents" and has been active in pursuing companies that it considers to be infringing on those patents. [ [ An Empire of Portals] ] In 2006, VistaPrint filed a patent infringement suit against Print24 GmbH and AG. A German court ruled in favor of VistaPrint in July 2007. [ [ Vistaprint: German Court finds that print24 and infringed VistaPrint patent] ] Separately, in May 2007, VistaPrint filed a patent infringement suit against two Taylor subsidiaries 123Print and DrawingBoard. This action is currently ongoing. [ [ Vistaprint files patent infringement suit against Taylor Subsidiaries 123Print and Drawing Board] ]

trategic Partnerships

In 2007, VistaPrint announced a strategic partnership with OfficeMax to provide an in-store station in up to 900 OfficeMax stores in the US and Mexico. [] OfficeMax ImPress is a white label, OfficeMax-branded web site for small business printing based on VistaPrint technologies. The agreement marked VistaPrint's first major move offline. In 2008, VistaPrint announced a strategic partnership with Intuit, the leader in accounting software with 3.5 million active small business customers. This ties VistaPrint's service into Intuit's QuickBooks software using a white label, Intuit-branded web site for small business printing based on VistaPrint technologies. [cite news| url=|title=VistaPrint Chases Away the Gloom|publisher=Business Week|date=January 25, 2008]

Controversy: Rewards Program

Like many ecommerce companies, VistaPrint frequently uses its pages to promote its business relationships with third-parties, through which the company generates referral, affiliate or advertising revenue. This form of co-marketing is popular because the revenue derived has almost no associated cost, and hence is highly profitable. In general, where such co-marketing results in a one-off customer purchase there is little criticism. However, this is significantly more controversial when it results in recurring (membership-related) billing.

In particular, VistaPrint's partnerships in the United Kingdom have attracted criticismcite news|last=Dibben|first=Margaret|url=|title=Ski firm says I booked online - but I was only browsing|publisher=The Observer|date=2007-09-23] cite web|url=|title=Scamwatch - Small Business|publisher=Federation of Small Businesses|accessdate=2008-05-15] . Critics have stated that VistaPrint's customers are enrolled without their knowledge in a reward voucher scheme operated by an associated company,, at a cost of £9.95 a month, that no information on the reward scheme is provided to customers subsequently and that it is up to the customers to detect the fact that they have been enrolled as members and to cancel unwanted membership. A similar scheme operates in the USA [cite news|url=|title=Comsumer complaints about||accessdate=2008-05-23] . The number of complaints is significant enough to generate awareness on the web and to be a cause for concern. For complainants, the company claims publicly to cancel the membership, and refunds the monthly membership : however there have been examples of complaints where the company has not done this or responded as quickly as customers would have liked.

In August 2008, the company announced that class action lawsuits relating to the membership discount programs offered by third party merchants on VistaPrint's USA website have been filed against VistaPrint USA, Inc., VistaPrint Corp., and two third party merchants (Vertrue Inc. and its subsidiary Adaptive Marketing LLC) in Texas and New Jersey. [cite news|url=|title=VistaPrint Announces Purported Federal Class Action Lawsuits] Two additional class-action suits were subsequently filed in both Massachusetts and Alabama. The four complaints, all filed in federal courts, allege that the defendants are in violation of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (which protects from unauthorized charges) and the federal Electronic Communications and Privacy Act (which prohibits the unlawful access of financial information). "As we allege in the complaint, we believe that VistaPrint and Vertrue are acting in concert to access consumers' credit card information and then begin charging them relatively small amounts," says Jerome Noll, counsel for the plaintiff that filed the Massachusetts suit. "You're talking about $14.95 a month or $12.95 a month, hoping that consumers just won't notice." [cite news|url=|title=VistaPrint Named in Four Federal Class-Action Lawsuits]

It should be noted that in its latest 10K for FY 2008, the company states "we expect that referral fee revenue from membership discount programs will decline in absolute dollar terms over that period of time ["by the end of calendar year 2010"] , including possibly to as low as zero." [cite news|url=|title=VISTAPRINT LTD (VPRT) 10-K filed 8/29/2008]

From a financial perspective, some observers and analysts contend that this type of highly profitable third-party revenue distorts the company's finances. A relatively small referral revenue can have a relatively large impact on the net income. While VistaPrint, as a public company, properly includes this revenue in its quarterly figures, it is argued that excluding this revenue gives a better picture of the company's true profitability and the value of its stock. [cite news|url=|title=Can it all be in the cards?|publisher=The Boston Globe|date=July 11,2008] [cite news|url=|title=The VistaPrint Fine Print|publisher=The Wall Street Journal|date=May 29,2008] For example, in FY 2008, VistaPrint's revenue was $400.7m with 6.9% of this ($27.6m) coming from referral fees, the "majority" of which comes from the rewards program. This can be contrasted with the net income for the same period of $39.8m. [cite news|url=|title=VISTAPRINT LTD (VPRT) 10-K filed 8/29/2008]

Business Practice: Bermuda Holding Company

Like a number of publicly listed companies, VistaPrint has an offshore corporate structure consisting of a parent company in a low-tax jurisdiction (in this case, Bermuda) and subsidiary companies in countries where it conducts substantial business. It has operated with this form of tax-efficient structure for more than seven years without challenge. Each individual operating company is taxed only on the revenue and income generated in its country of incorporation. The overall effect is to reduce the company's net corporate tax rate, while remaining compliant with the tax regulations of each country (and the listing requirements for a US public company). As a multinational offshore company, the company potentially attracts criticism for employing legal but controversial tax strategies and structures. In particular, while the company was originally founded in France, the company's largest single market is now the US, and its key executives are based in the US, and the company is listed in the US. Therefore, it is possible that future changes by the IRS in relation to corporate taxation, may reduce or eliminate VistaPrint's ability to continue to enjoy the benefits of its current tax structure. Relative to more highly taxed competitors, this increases net income and free cash flow. Some observers and analysts contend that this reduced tax burden distorts the company's finances, and does not provide a true picture of its profitability and the value of its stock, especially given the known concern in the US about the loss of potential tax revenues offshore.



External links

* [ Official site]
* [ Corporate Fact Sheet]
* [ Management Team & Robert Keane Bio]
* [ Board of Directors]

Finance links
name = VistaPrint
symbol = VPRT
sec_cik = 0001262976
hoovers = 115221

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