Dutch ecommerce brand Vistaprint has opened its first ever brick and mortar retail space, and it chose Canada, specifically Toronto, as the launch city. The new Vistaprint Studio is targeting small businesses in the area with Vistaprint services, and it will also offer workshops throughout the year. Vistaprint says that the initiative is a “truly seamless experience between the online shop and retail space."
Vistaprint produces physical and digital marketing products for small and micro businesses, and has 17 million micro business owners as customers. Vistaprint is a whole owned subsidiary of Cimpress N.V., a publicly traded company based in the Netherlands.
Located at 720 King Street West, the new 1,700 square foot Vistaprint Studio is contained in a bright, south-facing retail space just west of Toronto’s downtown core. Consumers can touch and feel products, and get face-to-face assistance from ‘VP Coaches’. Vistaprint recognized that in a recent survey of the company's North American customer base, 64% of business owners want more one-on-one in-person support when designing their new marketing materials.
"At Vistaprint Studio we are offering exclusive services you can't find anywhere else, including free graphic design — services we heard our customers want and which solidify our investment in the success of their businesses, now and in the future,” said Vistaprint’s CEO, Trynka Shineman.
Vistaprint says that its new retail space is designed as "a flexible environment to continuously tailor the experience to the needs of the local business owners,” featuring complimentary real-time one-on-one design services — services business owners would have to pay upwards of $100 per hour elsewhere. Vistaprint Studio offers free shipping to the store, and new technologies to assist in creating enhanced marketing materials, such as an interactive touchscreen logo maker.
The King Street West Vistaprint Studio is open six days a week, excluding Sundays.
Sara Nash, public relations manager at Vistaprint, explained that Toronto was chosen for Vistaprint’s first foray into brick and mortar retailing for a number of reasons. More than half of the company’s Canadian online customer base is in the Greater Toronto Area and furthermore, “it’s booming, and very supportive of small business,” she said. "Canada is our strongest growth market globally, and is a market where we also have very high customer satisfaction rates. So, we wanted to open the Vistaprint Studio in a well-known market to us and a place where we are excelling.”
The new retail space will be a test for the company, and it might tweak a few things here and there based on customer feedback. "What we've created is a seamless experience between our online and offline offerings,” she said, noting that Vistaprint "purposely built a flexible environment where we will have the ability to iterate and optimize rapidly as customers give us feedback on the in-store experience, to ultimately create the best experience for our customers."
When asked if more locations would follow, Ms. Nash said that the company doesn’t currently have plans "beyond making this first store the best experience for the customers,” and that “the way success will be measured is really through customer satisfaction. We believe that if we can create a store that really delights the customer and meets their needs, then the business model will follow and we will see where it goes from there.”
Vistaprint was one of the first businesses to offer customers desktop publishing capabilities through the internet, when it was founded in 1999. The company’s history extends back to 1995, when Robert Keane founded the company in Paris, under the name Bonne Impression (at the time, it was a direct marketer of desktop publishing software and pre-printed laser-printer-compatible specialty papers to help small businesses produce brochures/stationary/business cards). Bonne Impression became Vistaprint in 1999 when it adopted an internet-based business model. The company has grown to become a significant international company with over 2,500 employees, regional headquarters in Boston, Barcelona and Sydney, and boasts 24 localized websites that deliver product to over 130 countries.