My name is Thomas Bertrand, I’m from France, but have lived in Kyoto, Japan since 2003.
I first came here to study, but fell in love with the city and wanted to stay a bit more. I’m still enjoying my life here.
Since 2005, I have written a blog about life in Kyoto and Japan. I had about 800 unique visitors per day and so I thought I could start selling japanese items to my readers.
My mother told me in fall 2008 that bento had been featured in a French women’s magazine. There were a few blogs about bento in French and English, but it was difficult to find stores to buy them.
Three weeks later, I opened the first Bento&co online store in French, offering about 15 items. At that time, Shopify's first plan was commission based only, if I remember well. A friend helped with the design.
I started my business with about $500USD of stock.
In 2012, we needed to find a bigger place for our stock and office space and I was lucky to find a 3 story building in a great location. Perfect for a new office but also to open a brick-and-mortar shop (April 2012).
We have now shipped orders in 97 countries.
The app we use the most are:
But we also have 2 apps made in house : Ship&co (available on the Shopify App Store since a few weeks!) And Stock&co.
Stock&co sync our inventories between all our shopify stores and it works very well.
We can also add purchase prices for each products and it help us to calculate margin (even though we buy in JPY and sell in EUR & USD) and our inventory cost.
I couldn’t find any good yet simple app to sync inventories. Most of them have a lot of features we do not need.
Last year, our revenue were about 2M USD.
We ship between 800 to 1500 orders per month.
Ship&co is a shipping tools for online merchants.
I tried Shippo and ShipStation a few years ago, but it didn’t work well for us in Japan for international shipments. So we made our own app for Bento&co and since last year, we released a beta for other merchants in Japan.
Ship&co is now available in the Shopify App store and we work very hard to integrate with Japanese transport companies. It takes a lot of time to convince them to “share” their APIs with us. APis are not seen as technologies that should be open here.
Bento & Co sell a large range of Japanese bento boxes (think lunchboxes for single portion, take home or home packed meals). They operate a Japanese, English and wholesale website.