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A manufacturer of graphics products focuses on multiple markets

June 26, 2015 01:53 PM
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Circle Graphics, a manufacturer of ink, canvas wrap and other materials for producing business signs, printed advertising banners and wall decorations, began printing ads for roadside billboards in 2000. By producing its own inks and substrates and developing a fast method for producing the large signs, Circle Graphics built a strong presence in the billboard market across the United States, says Judy Toran Cousin, chief strategy officer.

The company has since built on that success to additional graphics services, including via the web. Chain hotels, restaurants and government bureaus can upload digital images to CircleGraphicsOnline.com and arrange to print large numbers of decorative prints to display on the walls throughout an organization’s offices and facilities, providing a cohesive look. Home decor products chains can order prints in bulk to sell in their stores.

Circle Graphics also lets its clients pull digital artwork from CircleGraphicsOnline.com to decorate their own web sites. About two months ago, the company’s in-house developers created an API, or application programming interface, that enables developers at other e-commerce sites to incorporate CircleGraphicsOnline.com content into their web pages. An API is a set of software instructions for integrating software applications.

When a customer orders a photographic print from Circle Graphics client and photography prints distributor Iconic Idaho, for example, the order automatically schedules a printing job at Circle Graphics, says Frank Baillargeon, founder of Iconic Idaho. Iconic Idaho sells historical and landscape photography prints about Idaho to local governments, hotels and restaurants through IconicIdaho.com.

“We have an integration with Circle Graphics that allows customers to find an image in our collection, or upload a personal image from their own collection, and have it printed and shipped to them,” Baillargeon says. “It gives people flexibility, and it’s made all the difference in the world for our sales.”

Circle Graphics processes 20,000 orders per day, and business clients accounted for 65% of its order volume in 2014, Toran Cousin says. Circle Graphics has more than 200,000 customers; half of them are B2B clients. The rest are consumers ordering through drugstore photo terminals.

Since 2011, the company has integrated its online ordering process with a major drugstore chain’s photo kiosks, where consumers can print their own images in the store or order larger prints for shipment. The company declines to name the drugstore, but says it ranks high in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, which ranks companies by their annual online sales. Circle Graphics has also formed agreements with such imaging services companies as Fujifilm and Iconic Idaho to design images for the consumer and hospitality industries.

Toran Cousin says distributors and wholesalers are now the highest area of growth at Circle Graphics. 45% of all B2B customers shop directly at CircleGraphicsOnline.com, which the company built using a Magento e-commerce platform. Nearly all B2B orders go through CircleGraphicsOnline.com, or through sites like Iconic Idaho that connect to CircleGraphicsOnline.com.

The privately held company doesn’t release sales figures, but Toran Cousin says it did “between $100 million and $200 million in 2014” in combined B2B and retail sales. Toran Cousin says the company expects both its revenue and its customer base to grow by 20% in 2015.

A good part of that growth will come from wall décor products. “One of the real emerging segments is the wall décor segment,” Toran Cousin says. “Rather than having consumers upload their own photos, we utilize licensed content—we have 100 licensed relationships with lots of very specialized artists—to sell to distributors in the home décor segment.”

The company is also seeing more business from customers overseas. About 18 months ago, Circle Graphics started getting orders placed from outside the United States, Toran Cousin says. Today, international clients located primarily in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Australia comprise 5% of the company’s business. The company can ship to 200 countries.

In the future, Circle Graphics expects to increase its international presence, as well as implement a plug-in that allows small businesses to easily integrate with its system, Toran Cousin says.

Sign up for a free subscription to B2BecNews, a weekly newsletter that covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes the monthly business magazine Internet Retailer. Follow Nona Tepper, associate editor for B2B e-commerce, on Twitter @ntepper90.

 

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