Market: VistaCreate and the battle for design supremacy


This takeover has the potential to cause a “big bang” in the printing industry: following the recent discussions surrounding the Canva design platform and its “dealings” with the major online printers, Cimpress has just taken over Crello and Depositphotos, an equally powerful design tool and an internationally renowned brand for stock photos and videos. And so, the battle for design supremacy in web-to-print has begun.

No longer do you need to be a graphic designer in order to create flyers, brochures or menus that look hip and modern. You don’t even have to know your way around Photoshop or Affinity Photo. Because design platforms like Canva or Crello, with their thousands of templates, font templates, and presets, make life – or rather, designing – easier for ambitious amateur graphic designers, influencers, and creative beginners with no prior knowledge.

Crello was founded in 2016 by Ukrainian creative Dmitriy Sergeev and is therefore almost three years younger than its Australian counterpart Canva. This early “head start” is also reflected in the numbers: as of today, and according to its website, Crello offers more than 50,000 templates, while Canva offers more than 420,000. Crello has more than seven million users, while Canva claims 60 million. Crello is available in 16 languages, Canva in 100.

The question is: Is this a David versus Goliath battle? More specifically, who is who here?

So why is the news of the takeover by Cimpress nevertheless a “big bang”? Simple. It’s not about how extensive the design platform with Ukrainian roots is today, but what it can and will become – especially with a partner like Cimpress at its side.

Moreover, Cimpress has not only acquired Crello, but also Depositphotos. The stock footage provider, headquartered in New York, USA, started in 2009 as a classic image database, but today it also offers animations as well as video and music footage material. In fact, Depositphotos has more than 220 million files in “stock,” to put another number on it. The brand serves customers in 192 countries, is available in 20 languages, is built on a growing network of more than 100,000 content creators – and was founded by Dmitriy Sergeev. That’s right, the same entrepreneur who launched Crello in 2016. After all: Crello is a brand of Depositphotos.

Depositphotos employs more than 300 people worldwide and has offices in New York, Milan, Kiev, Limassol, Moscow and Warsaw. The Crello team additionally brings more than 100 employees, from the head office in Limassol, Cyprus to the development team in Kiev, Ukraine.

Following the acquisition by Cimpress, the design platform will be called VistaCreate, while the Depositphotos brand will be retained. The Vice President of both new business units will be Vadim Nekhai, who was already in charge as the CEO of Crello as well as for Depositphotos. According to various sources, the VistaCreate brand is planned primarily for Vistaprint’s do-it-yourself applications.

Establishing relationships instead of simply generating orders

With the acquisition of the two companies or brands, Cimpress will thus be able to draw on an entire universe of multimedia files, templates and know-how in the future and exploit potential synergies. According to Cimpress circles, this is an important, strategic step in the direction of do-it-yourself (DIY) design for social media and other digital design formats.

Those familiar with Cimpress know that the development in the direction of DIY and digital design is, in principle, only logical: with Vistaprint, the group had already offered browser-based design templates and tools 20 years ago, making it possible for smaller companies to present themselves professionally to the outside world with individually designed advertising materials. Over the years, as we can all see live on the world wide web, this demand has grown – even beyond the boundaries of pure print products. The demand for solutions for social media, videos or other digital applications is continuously increasing, while postings and other digital design tasks are required on a completely different scale than physical (print) products.

DIY, CRMagic, DIWH – What is Cimpress up to now?

A well-thought out “do-it-yourself studio” for digital design that seamlessly integrates with Cimpress’ tools for creating physical products could, consequently, kill several birds with one stone. It would not only serve the changing needs of customers, but also build relationships with customers through the subscription model, rather than “just” generating transactions. CRMagic is what Cimpress calls this approach, “Customer Relationship Magic,” which is to be pursued together with customer-centric, support services (“Do It With Help,” or DIWH for short) with VistaCreate. This new business model would also attract a number of new customers.

VistaCreate will not just be made available to end customers, who will now be able to create their designs without any hurdles via Cimpress’ own platforms. Partner companies and other online print shops are also set to benefit. However, it is not yet known in which price segment Cimpress will offer them this tool. In terms of rapid market penetration, I think it would be advisable to make the entry barriers as low as possible – if only to build up a price counter-model to Canva.

But the acquisition of Crello and Depositphotos alone is by no means the end of the story: according to Cimpress, the company also plans to invest heavily in expanding the capabilities of VistaCreate. The goal seems clear: not just to catch up with Canva, but to be superior. Expanding the gap between Cimpress and its Australian competitor. With this move, many an online printer who not only have to pay a fee for using the Canva editor, but also have to give Canva a percentage of the print revenue, will consider a quick switch. A smart move…

The design market is consolidating

The current acquisitions of Cimpress can certainly be interpreted as a reaction to the latest developments in the market. After all, it was less than six months ago that numerous European online printers proudly announced that they had integrated the Canva design platform into their stores. Accordingly, the news from Cimpress, VistaCreate and Depositphotos is likely to generate a fair amount of discussion, perhaps even an explosion, in the market. The cards are being reshuffled.

When it comes to the market the signs are pointing to consolidation in the do-it-yourself design and creation sector. In my opinion, only three relevant players will remain that have what it takes to meet the increasing demands of customers with investment and innovation: Adobe, Canva – and VistaCreate.

For Canva, at least, things are likely to get increasingly uncomfortable from now on, since converting free Canva users into paying customers has just become a lot more difficult with the takeover of Crello and Depositphotos by Cimpress. Moreover, when it comes to selling print in addition to design, Cimpress simply has the edge over the Australians simply because it has more experience. And thirdly, under the current circumstances, it is questionable whether Canva will be able to retain its integration and print partners, including Helloprint, Tradeprint and Flyeralarm, in the long term.

VistaCreate is modern and easy to use. It is therefore primarily aimed at smaller companies, SMEs and Soho businesses (small office, home office). However, the new design platform is not comparable with the editor tools from providers such as rissc or Cloudlab, which are primarily intended for use in the professional B2B environment.

One more thing: In the wake of the acquisition of Crello and Depositphotos, Cimpress has announced its new major brand “Vista”. In the future, VistaPrint, 99designs by Vista, Vista x Wix and VistaCreate will be bundled under this brand. Thus, the group will offer its users a wide range of design options, from the “do-it-yourself” principle, through a network of professional designers, to traditional uploading and printing. “Vistas” main source of income will, however, according to reports from the Cimpress circle, continue to be printing and physical products.

This is understandable; after all, despite the pandemic, Cimpress’ sales in the previous twelve months up to September of this year are said to have been the equivalent of more than 2.23 billion euros, with EBITDA well in excess of 258 million euros. That, in turn, means that “Vista” doesn’t technically have to make any money on the software. And this gives Cimpress plenty of freedom – similar to what it had in the 1990s with VistaStudio, a DTP software that Cimpress offered free of charge as a browser-based variant at the time.

My Take: The market for do-it-yourself design solutions is now seeing a lot of movement. Which is a good thing. The printing industry should not blindly hand over control of the large field of “design and creation” to someone who is “cool” and “hip” but for whom the output of designs in printed form is merely a nice add-on. The fact that the (admittedly large) companies in the printing industry are quite capable of taking ownership of design into their own hands is demonstrated by the acquisition of Crello and Depositphotos by Cimpress. To stand up to Canva at this point is an important step towards the emancipation and further development of online print shops. However, how successful VistaCreate will really be in the end also depends on how market competitors and other companies in the printing industry will react to the new offering.

Cimpress already has numerous DIY solutions in its portfolio provided by Vistaprint and other group brands. By implementing VistaCreate, Cimpress is taking the next logical step: it’s a kind of “declaration of independence” because it means the company will no longer be dependent on third-party suppliers in the future. That’s smart. The step toward “relationship management” is also wise, turning the erratic e-commerce customer into a permanent user, as his data, provided he uses the application in the cloud, is stored in VistaCreate – and thus also on the platform on which the customer can immediately initiate print production. The fact that Cimpress also wants to make the application available to competitors shows something else: the company is rethinking… we’ll stay tuned. The news promises to remain exciting.

Market: VistaCreate and the battle for design supremacy
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Market: VistaCreate and the battle for design supremacy
This takeover has the potential to cause a "big bang" in the printing industry: Following the recent discussions surrounding the Canva design platform and its "dealings" with the major online printers, Cimpress has just taken over Crello and Depositphotos, an equally powerful design tool and an internationally renowned brand for stock photos and videos. And so, the battle for design supremacy in web-to-print has begun.
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Founder and CEO of zipcon consulting GmbH, one of the leading consulting companies for the print and media industry in Central Europe. The technology and strategy consultant and his team actively support practical implementation in a wide variety of customer projects. His work involves developing visions, concepts and strategies for the players active in the print production process across a wide range of industries. His areas of expertise include online print, mass customization, strategy and technological assessment for print, and the development of new strategies in the print and media environment. Bernd Zipper is the creator and chairman of Initiative Online Print e.V. and, in addition to his consulting activities, is an author, lecturer and sought-after speaker, orator and moderator. His visionary lectures are regarded worldwide as trend-setting management recommendations for the print and media industry. (Profiles also in Xing, LinkedIn).

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