Vistaprint's Storefront Impacts Distributors In A Big Way
Two weeks ago, we reported that Vistaprint had opened its first brick-and-mortar storefront, Vistaprint Studio, in Toronto.
The store offers an extension to what the e-commerce platform does—customized paper products and printing—but gives customers the chance to see products in a physical setting, similar to how promotional products professionals use showrooms for sales ideas.
It also features design booths where clients can speak with designers and in-store coaches on products and ideas, according to The Globe and Mail.
"Everything we've built in the store, we've built to be adaptable, so that as customers come in they give us feedback on what's working and not working, what they need more of," said Trynka Shineman, CEO of Vistaprint, to The Globe and Mail. "We have the ultimate flexibility in this store to continue to modify the way we're talking about products, to add more services or less services. We're really looking to learn and adapt and to create something that truly delights them."
So why is a company that built its brand and reputation as an online platform moving into the physical realm? Drew Green, CEO of Indochino, another former online-only company that moved into storefronts, said that people want the choice to have both.
"I think the days of being an online-only company are coming to an end, whether that's three years from now, five years from now or what have you," he told The Globe and Mail.
That's an interesting point to think about. In the past, companies like Vistaprint and Custom Ink were competitors, but still much different than most promotional products businesses because, at the end of the day, promotional products suppliers and distributors were able to offer face-to-face inspiration and direction to their prospective clients that online sellers could not.
As companies like Vistaprint change this dynamic by putting staff in storefronts for clients to speak with, does that step on the promotional products industry's toes?
In the new landscape where the e-commerce giants are getting face time with customers, what can promotional products distributors do to differentiate themselves even more from the competition? That might be the key to survival going forward.