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Bharath Sastry, CEO, Vistaprint India Vistaprint India
Vistaprint is an online player for customized products in India.
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Face mask is one of our best performing categories today: Bharath Sastry, CEO of Vistaprint India

Vistaprint is an online player for customized products in India.
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  • Vistaprint India is an e-commerce platform for custom printing services for individuals and small business owners to help them create a professional identity.
  • It is a part of a global company with roots in the Netherlands, in India, it has focused on small businesses, individuals and corporate.
  • Bharath Sastry, CEO of Vistaprint India tells us how the organization has been working towards making things easy for its stakeholders during these difficult times.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a country-wide lockdown in March this year to control the spread of Covid-19, businesses of all kinds were impacted. However, it has been smaller businesses and individuals who have had to face the brunt.

Due to the lockdown, many small businesses had to shut shop. However, this is when a lot of bigger organizations stepped up to support the SME segment by coming up with strategies that could help them stay afloat during these difficult times.

Vistaprint India is an e-commerce platform for custom printing services for individuals and small business owners to help them create a professional identity. While Vistaprint is a part of a global company with roots in the Netherlands, in India, it has focused on small businesses, individuals and corporate. They manufacture all their products locally with the help of local workers and employees.

We recently spoke to Bharath Sastry, CEO of Vistaprint India on how the organization has been working towards making things easy for its stakeholders during these difficult times. He also told us that the biggest lessons for him as a leader from the lockdown months were the importance of focus, adaptability and positivity.

Excerpts:

Q) It's been 6 years since Vistaprint came to India. How has your journey been so far?

It has essentially been a journey of 3 things for us. Focus, Expansion and Fun. Focus was about articulating the strategic areas where we will play and where we can win, namely an online platform for customized products. We have expanded across products, categories & geographies and have been able to drive significant profitable growth in the last 3-4 years. And had lots of fun doing so.

Q) What has your focus been in India?

We are the leading online player for customized products in India. In this area, our focus has mainly been on building the Vistaprint brand, launching relevant new products and categories on our platform, improving customer experience on our site, consistent focus on quality improvement, and evolving into a high-performing organization.

Q) How did the lockdown impact the organization and your overall business in the past few months? What were the challenges you faced?

We have seen a significant impact during the most intense phase of the lockdown. The key challenge was the slump in demand. However, once the unlock has started we have started to see rising levels of demand. I firmly believe that companies with solid foundations, namely brands that connect with customers, a focused business strategy, healthy variable margins, and people who are adaptable will come out from the situation stronger. And we are well on that journey.

Q) Your focus in India has been on smaller businesses. Since the lockdown made it difficult for a lot of these businesses, how did you contribute in smoothing things out for them?

Our customers are diverse – small businesses, medium & large businesses and individuals. Basically, anyone who is looking to customize or personalize their products. We have been able to innovate during the lockdown and launch a significant number of design templates relevant to Covid, which our customers can easily access. Apart from this we have launched masks and gloves to encourage safety and our customers can also have fun personalizing them.

Q) How do you drive differentiation in the category?

I believe there is no single bullet but a combination of different things. We provide our customers a wide selection of high-quality products with single/ low unit customization at affordable prices from the convenience of their home or office.

Q) Who is your primary target audience? Do you have a lot of consumers in smaller cities too?

Our users cut across small businesses, medium/ large businesses as well as individuals who are looking to personalize products. We have a large range of categories that perform well, our top categories are Visiting Cards, Apparel like T shirts and Shirts, Stationery, Signs, Pens, Mugs, Photo albums, and now Masks etc. We cater to all geographies in the country, and while we started gaining traction in the larger cities initially, the growths of our tier 2 and smaller towns have picked up in the last couple of years.

Q) What kind of growth have you witnessed in the past year? Where do you want to take the company in the next few years?

We have seen our business grow multiple times in the last 3-4 years. This scale has helped us also improve our profitability. We intend to continue the journey of strengthening our fundamentals which will drive both growths and profits in the future.

Q) While you have been present here for 6 years, you haven't been very visible in terms of advertising. Any plans of increasing your ad/marketing spends in the next few quarters?

We haven’t been present on traditional media like TV, print often but the customers we address are online, hence we have invested significantly on brand building on our digital platforms, namely YouTube, Facebook and other popular channels. Among our target audience, our brand awareness has quadrupled over the last 3-4 years. Currently we are airing a clutter breaking video of a tailor impressing his father-in-law by showing his professionalism.

Q) As a leader, what have you learnt from the entire lockdown period?

To me, the lockdown period has re-emphasized the 3 vital aspects relevant to business leaders in today’s times.
1) Focus – continue to maintain or further enhance focus on the strategic areas where your business can win.
2) Adaptability – in an ever-changing world, a trait which has become increasingly important for business leaders is adaptability. To me, it’s a combination of the will to act and a flexible temperament.
3) Positivity – maintaining a positive environment even in the toughest of times builds encouragement and endurance amongst team members, so keep smiling.