Bizelo Customer Spotlight: Bento&co
Today we’re sharing our exciting interview with Bento&co. Since 2008, Bento&coBento has made a name for themselves by selling bento boxes, which are also known as Japanese lunch boxes. Through four separate Shopify in three separate languages, Bento&co has shipped bento boxes and accessories to over 70 different countries. You won’t find a this awesome Camera Lens Mug anywhere else!
E: Tell us about your online shop. What do you sell and what makes you unique?
B&C: Bento&co opened in 2008. We sell bento boxes (japanese lunchbox) and all items related to it : food cutters, lunch bags, tumblers…, as well as japanese kitchen accessories. Thomas, Bento&co CEO found an opportunity. He noticed that bento boxes were becoming very popular in France, but there was no specialized shop online shop to purchase them. An English version opened in 2010, and Japanese in 2011 where we shipped boxes to more than 70 different countries. We also have a wholesale department, where we supply retailers with bento boxes. We sell to about 60 shops mainly in Europe and in North America. I think one of our best asset is to offer a very large range of products related to bento boxes that are hard to find outside of Japan. We also have some exclusive products, such as our Kokeshi Bento Kyoto, Toji Box or Sanjo knives. And was also offer a selection of japanese fun gadgets such as Mario Cards, Fridgeezoo, and Camera Lens mugs.
E: What items are the most popular with your buyers?
B&C: Here are our 20 most popular items sold in 2011 : http://en.bentoandco.com/collections/top-2011. Beside bento boxes, our most popular product is our egg mold, that are used to form hard boiled eggs into cute shapes. Popular bento boxes in Europe, US, or Canada, are not always most popular here in Japan. Each country has different needs. Japanese people know how to pack food in a small space so they usually use smaller boxes. Boxes like Bento Colors or Kokeshi Bento are not really common here in Japan. In 2011, one of our most popular item was our Camera Lens Mug.
E: Which online ecommerce platforms are you currently on? Are you planning on selling in other places? If you do, Do you have any other online stores? How do they relate to your current shop?
B&C: We use Shopify. We have 4 accounts (1 for our French, English and Japanese shops and one for wholesale). We don’t want to sell our products on Ebay or Amazon because it’s hard to keep a qualitative service, so we’d like to avoid spreading ourselves too thin. Shopify is just perfect for what we need (we first started with Shopify in 2006 with their beta version!).
E: What would you like to improve about your ecommerce experience?
B&C: First, we mainly want to create the link between a lot of interesting and unique japanese products and the rest of the world. Some items have a very good potential on an international market, but japanese makers don’t really know how market properly. We try to give as much information as we can through detailed descriptions of every product, and lots a pictures. This is extremely important to us. Shipping fees are important as well. We try to have the cheapest shipping fees possible, but being in Japan makes it difficult. For instance, it’s really hard to set up free shipping, although we know that it would encourage people to make bigger purchases. Sometimes, customers don’t know that we’re in Japan, but for those who know, they’re really understanding because We want to make sure we can provide rare products at a great service.
E: What do you spend the most time doing that you’d like to eliminate or reduce?
B&C: Having the Bizelo App has helped us manage our inventory. You just can’t imagine how much time we spent trying to update the inventory on our 3 shops… So now, we’d like to reduce simple tasks during orders preparation (creating pack list, printing invoice, labels,…) We chose not to use a fulfillment service because we want to control the whole order process from products selection to orders shipping and after sales service.
E: Besides Bizelo, What are some tools that you use?
B&C: We use about 10 others apps from Shopify store. We use apps such as: Abandon App and Jilt for abandoned cart, Back in stock, Grapevine for products reviews, Market Brain for statistics. We also daily use some various tools such as : Mailchimp (newsletters), Asana (for project and task management), Ginza metrics (optimize our webpages), Crazy egg (click tracking), Hootsuit (to post on Facebook during the night, because most of the orders are placed when we sleep, because of jet-lag!)
E: What other pieces of advice or feedback would you have for other online retailers currently on the Bizelo platform?
B&C: Bizelo has been great! Initially, we had many coding errors, but Ron spent hours on Skype with us to help solve our problems. We know that we can always count on Bizelo team. I highly recommend Bizelo if you have considered opening multiple shops in different languages. Their simple inventory management software allowed you to grow and internationalize your business.
E: How can potential customers find you?
Here’s our english site : http://en.bentoandco.com/
Our French site : http://www.bentoandco.com/
Our Japanese site : http://www.bentoandco.jp/
On Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/bentoandco
On Twitter : http://twitter.com/#!/bentoandco
Tumbler : http://bentoandco.tumblr.com/
And we might open a brick & mortar store this year in Kyoto, but still thinking about it…
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Posted By: Evan Schwartz, Community Manager