Venlo, the Netherlands - Patented visualization software automates accurate conversion of images into stitch patterns - eliminating setup fees and minimum orders associated with traditional embroidery
Vistaprint N.V. (Nasdaq: VPRT), a leading online provider of professional marketing products and services to micro businesses and the home, today announced an embroidery service that capitalizes on advanced visualization and computer-aided design software to eliminate typical setup and design costs while providing access to high-quality, custom-branded apparel with no minimum order amount.
"Embroidery is a centuries-old art form," said Robert Keane, Vistaprint's president and CEO. "The time and skill it takes to decorate a garment with an intricate, multi-colored pattern is one reason that this kind of image promotion was out of reach unless you could afford to buy large amounts of branded gear."
Although the thread stitching process itself has become a routine manufacturing operation, due to design, set-up and stitch fees, small or limited runs for custom embroidered clothing tends to be too cost-prohibitive for many small businesses.
"Technology now allows us to eliminate traditional costs and constraints. We can provide a level of customization that gives small businesses an affordable way to access the same quality in embroidered products that was far more expensive in the past," Keane said.
Vistaprint signaled its entry into the growing embroidery market (topping $8.5 billion annually in North America alone) with its 2010 acquisition of SoftSight, Inc. Vistaprint holds or has pending over 15 patents around its embroidery process, including capturing, optimizing and managing visual objects. Its software automates a number of steps previously done manually, such as analyzing color or expressing an image's smallest visual elements as a thread design in order to render accurate stitching patterns in more efficient and cost-effective way.
Providing access to this system through its website, Vistaprint allows customers to turn the promotional messages they select into custom-embroidered apparel for production runs with minimum orders of a single item. There are no setup fees, no stitching charges and, as with all Vistaprint orders, a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.
Customers can order embroidered apparel on http://www.vistaprint.com/embroiderysale from a line of polo shirts, hooded sweatshirts and baseball caps. Prior to completing any purchase, they obtain dynamic previews of their design to ensure satisfaction with the quality of the work. The site's technology dynamically computes thousands of attributes for each thread and stitch in a design. A patent pending algorithm then generates a richly detailed image of the finished article, displaying major characteristics such as the embroidery's texture and corresponding three-dimensionality, as well as the subtle light-reflection differences between two identical threads stitched adjacent to one another.
"Ten years ago, when small and micro businesses didn't have access to business cards and printed products that made them look and feel professional, Vistaprint found a way to provide them," said Embroidery Program Manager at Vistaprint and SoftSight co-founder David Goldman. "By applying the same model of technology-based custom design, pricing efficiency and manufacturing quality to custom embroidered products, Vistaprint can deliver the high-impact products that help a business stand out."
Customers can design personalized apparel on the company's site with simple point-and-click tools to specify text and to select fonts, colors and images. Additional customization services, including uploading an existing logo and transforming it into a stitch pattern, are available on a limited basis currently and will be rolled out to more and more Vistaprint users over the next six months.
As with all its products, Vistaprint leverages its technology to assist customers in making sound choices when ordering custom designs. For example, if the qualities of an image do not translate well into embroidery, the site helps customers determine whether other customization methods, such as digital printing, produce an aesthetic result that better serves their marketing purposes.
Vistaprint offers a multitude of products and services for both micro businesses and the home. Products include printed options such as business folders, graduation invitations, save the date magnets, and vinyl banners; promotional apparel like hats and T-shirts; and marketing services such as websites and email marketing.