April 28, 2008, 12:00 AM

Going beyond business cards, VistaPrint will host sites for small companies

VistaPrint today launched its first electronic service, hosting sites for the kinds of small businesses that already order business cards, brochures and other printed products from the online retailer.

VistaPrint Ltd., the online retailer that mainly sells printed products like business cards and brochures to small businesses, launched today its first electronic service, offering to host web sites for smaller companies.

A company can choose from among web site templates developed for dozens of industries, from dog-walking to landscaping, and, if it’s ordered business cards from VistaPrint, have the colors and fonts from those cards automatically fed into the template. The customer can upload pictures, edit the text and move around site elements, says Elise Rhoads, associate manager of product marketing and a leader of the web-hosting project.

VistaPrint, No. 79 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, discovered through surveys that many of its small business customers wanted web sites but didn’t know how to create one, Rhoads says. An in-house team developed the site-builder tool in six months, aiming to make it easy to use. “We’ve done testing on our average, 40-year-old, non-technical customers and they’re finding it really simple to use, which is the primary goal of the project,” she says.

There are three levels of service. For $4.99 per month, the business gets a site with a sub-domain followed by vpweb.com, such as www.poodlepal.vpweb.com, and three web pages, including a customer contact form. The $9.98 monthly package includes the company’s name as the URL, such as www.poodlepal.com, five pages, the option of attaching a map to the site and more customer support. For $14.97 a month the client can have an unlimited number of pages, more storage space and a higher level of customer support.

VistaPrint does not support e-commerce on the sites, but will evaluate customer requests as it determines how to expand the service in the future, Rhoads says.

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