Thomas talks about how has evolved and grown to 1,500 orders per month.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and Bento&co?

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.

What made you decide to start selling bento online?

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.

Bento and Co Boxes
Bento Box Meals

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.

How have you expanded from where you started in 2008?

We had more and more orders from the States and opened the english - usd - store in 2010, and a japanese one in 2011 plus a Bento&co BtoB store, also on Shopify.

Bento and Co Wholesale Store
The Bento & Co. Wholesale site


Having a seperate wholesale store seems quite common on Shopify considering the price of wholesale apps. The Reluctant Trading Experiment also do this.

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.

Which Shopify apps and software do you use and which are most important to your business?

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.

Are there any metrics you can share about average monthly orders or revenue? 

Last year, our revenue were about 2M USD.

We ship between 800 to 1500 orders per month.

What are you working towards now?


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.

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