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Vistaprint is a global, e-commerce brand that produces physical and digital marketing products for small and micro businesses. It was one of the first businesses to offer its customers the capabilities of desktop publishing through the internet when it first launched in 1999. Vistaprint is wholly owned by Cimpress N.V., a publicly traded company based in the Netherlands.
The company is based in Venlo, Netherlands and employs over 5,100 employees globally in its offices and printing facilities. The company’s U.S. offices are in Waltham, Massachusetts, while its European offices are in Barcelona, Spain. Its three printing facilities, which total almost 74,000 square metres (800,000 sq ft) of production space, are in Deer Park, Victoria, Australia; Windsor, Ontario, Canada; and Venlo, Netherlands.
Through the use of its own patented technology, Cimpress aggregates large numbers of customized orders from each of its brands and print them in automated production facilities in North America and Europe. The company maintains a customer service call center, Vistaprint Jamaica Ltd., in Montego Bay, Jamaica. It has been staffed by company employees since it was opened in November 2003.
The company was founded as Vistaprint in Paris, France in 1995 by current President and CEO Robert Keane, immediately following his graduation from INSEAD Business School. Originally starting with business cards as its only product, the company expanded to postcards, letterhead, stamps, and return address labels.
In September 2005, the company went ahead with an initial public offering and began trading on the NASDAQ. It opened a European office in Barcelona, Spain in September 2006 and in 2009 relocated to Venlo. The offices of the company president and CEO, Robert Keane, moved to a newly opened Paris, France office along with the corporate strategy division.
In a public quarterly earnings announcement July 30, 2009, it was revealed the board of directors concluded it was in the best interest of the company and its shareholders to move the corporate domicile from Bermuda to the Netherlands, and to establish a two-tier board structure that is typical in Dutch corporate governance. The company also established a headquarters office in Paris. The company cited internationalism in market objectives, operations, corporate culture and corporate structure as reasons for the re-incorporation.
In 2011, the company purchased Amsterdam-based Albumprinter, which operated throughout Europe under the brand names Albelli, Bonusprint or Önskefoto.
As the company expanded, it retained its subsidiary brands in different locales. In November 2014, Vistaprint announced it would reorganize with the intention of unifying and improving their software and systems across the various brands. The parent company took the new name Cimpress, while Vistaprint remained the brand serving North America. As a result of the change, company's ticker symbol was change from VPRT to CMPR.
Orders are processed online and jobs gang printed using a formula based on type of job, paper stock type, print run quantity, finishing (if any) and ship-by dates, among other factors. User-selectable options are minimized, printing standard types of printed materials, such as business cards or postcards. Within each category, only specific sizes, paper stocks and ink colors are supported. This results in higher numbers of similar jobs which can be ganged together. Changeover time is reduced because there's less need to change paper or inks between jobs.
Self-service design, proofing and ordering are handled at the front-end through the web, with controlled printing, cutting, packing and dispatching handled at the back-end through printing plants. Cimpress' 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 is vertically integrated with production facilities for North America in Windsor, Ontario and for Europe in Venlo, Netherlands. The company uses presses such as the manroland 700 as part of its printing assembly line.
Computer-integrated manufacturing techniques help minimize human intervention and labor costs. Using browser-based desktop publishing environment, customers design and proofread the job. Jobs are routed for printing without intervention. The printing is done in a single pass on 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.
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, orders are printed faster and at lower costs than traditional printers. Their strategy is to target small-run orders usually excluded from conventional large printers.
One of the company's early hires was an in-house patent attorney. and currently holds over 100 patents worldwide. 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.
In 2006, the company filed a patent infringement suit against Print24 GmbH and UnitedPrint.com AG. A German court ruled in favor of Vistaprint in July 2007. However, after appealing, the German Federal Patent Court ruled in favor of Unitedprint.com, rescinding Vistaprint’s controversial software patent in March 2009.
Separately, in May 2007, the company filed a patent infringement suit against two Taylor Corporation subsidiaries 123Print and DrawingBoard.
In 2007, a strategic partnership was announced with OfficeMax to provide an in-store station in up to 900 OfficeMax stores in the US and Mexico. OfficeMax ImPress is an OfficeMax-branded web site for small business printing based on Vistaprint technologies. In 2008, Vistaprint announced a strategic partnership with Intuit, a supplier of accounting software, tying their service into Intuit's QuickBooks software using an Intuit-branded web site. In 2009, the company also announced it will supply services for the FedEx Office brand. The company announced in 2012 that it had entered into a strategic partnership with Staples Inc..
Founder & CEO
Robert Keane founded what is today Cimpress in 1995 to provide small businesses with everything they need to market their business. Keane's vision for the company emerged from his experience with the development of a retail kiosk design and printing system and from his in-depth knowledge of the small business desktop publishing software market.
Today he leads Cimpress and its portfolio of business units with a clear purpose: to empower millions of people around the world to make a tangible, personal impression.
Keane previously served as an external consultant to Microsoft with the Microsoft Publisher desktop publishing product team for whom he researched and advised on the graphic design and printing needs of small businesses in Europe. He earned his B.A. in Economics from Harvard College and his MBA from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.
In the US, Vistaprint has been accused of enrolling customers into Vertrue's paid-membership reward plan without the customer's agreement. Credit card details are passed on to Vertrue (formerly Memberworks Incorporated) by Vistaprint, and charges are then made on those credit cards by Vertrue without the owner's consent. Numerous complaints have been received by ConsumerAffairs.com and The Better Business Bureau by consumers objecting to these charges including the complaints of still being charged after canceling and that more than a year after cancelling membership, the charges began again.
Vistaprint's partnerships in the United Kingdom have attracted criticism. Critics have stated that Vistaprint's customers are enrolled without their knowledge in a reward voucher operated by an associated company, VPrewards.com, at a cost of £9.95 a month, and that no information is provided to customers subsequently. Additionally, it is up to the customers to detect the fact that they have been enrolled as members and to cancel unwanted membership.
In August 2008, four class-action lawsuits were filed against Vistaprint. The four complaints alleged that the defendants were 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) for charging relatively small amounts from customers accounts "hoping that consumers just won't notice."
On November 30, 2009, the company announced that it had terminated its contract with an affiliate of Vertrue Inc., effective December 20, 2009, and that, it had ended all membership rewards or similar programs.
In 2011, following complaints from UK customers, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated pricing irregularities on Vistaprint's UK website and leaflet distributions. The ASA also upheld a complaint that Vistaprint was misleading customers in its '£40 worth of printing for a £10 spend' promotion.
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