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Uprooting your entire life, your entire family and moving to a new city is no small task. Now imagine that new city is in an entirely new country. In 1999, Jean-Pierre and his wife Valerie Brunet, along with their three children packed their bags and did just that. Of all the things that come along with moving to a new place — learning a new language, meeting new people, exploring a new culture — one challenge proved to be the most difficult: the Brunets were unable to find the culinary ingredients they were used to back home.
Twice a year, the family would return to France to purchase products and bring them home to use for the next six months. The rules at the time were rather lax, but 9/11 changed the way people traveled across the world. The family faced more and more challenges bringing their taste of home back to the US, and in 2009 the Brunets decided to start importing and selling products online.
“Ecommerce didn’t really exist at the time,” Jean-Pierre explained. “We had a small website that was based on Joomla and we used a plugin to create a store. We had a search where people could find recipes and buy products through PayPal. That was about it.”
The family business, Le Panier Francais, experienced a boost after an appearance on the Martha Stewart Show, and they quickly realized that they needed a more robust platform to grow their business.
Finding a platform to fit the family business’ needs
In 2010, Jean-Pierre began researching ecommerce platforms to help build an new ecommerce site. That’s when he had his first experience with BigCommerce. “At the time, it was just a couple of guys from Australia. I was on LinkedIn with the co-founder of BigCommerce, and we would have sessions where we would talk about where the platform could go next,” he explained.
But at the time, BigCommerce lacked some of the features that Jean-Pierre was looking for most. “I switched over to OpenCart. It’s natively multi-store, multi-theme, multi-language. A lot of this you could do with a click. It had a lot of what we needed at the time”
Le Panier Francais stayed with OpenCart for quite some time. “For four or five years we were using OpenCart, spending a lot of time creating our site, developing custom functions. But in the end, it was just swallowing our time. I was spending about half a day developing our site, which wasn’t good,” he said. He knew that, to save time, he had to find a platform that had a lot of the custom functionality he was building for the company’s OpenCart store available out of the box. That’s when he decided to take another look at BigCommerce.
Back to the start
In mid-2020, Le Panier Francais migrated its ecommerce site back to BigCommerce. After almost 10 years, the platform had grown by leaps and bounds. “BigCommerce has a better and easier integration with the ecosystem,” Jean-Pierre explained. “On our old platform, they had some plugins, but one day it would be working, the next it’s not. The quality of the app integrations on BigCommerce is so much better. The foundation is so much more solid than other open-source platforms. It’s one of the reasons we moved.”
Having that stronger foundation helps Jean-Pierre find time to make improvements of his own. “Since we moved and have freed a lot of time, we can come back to what we’re missing,” he said.
Instead of managing the platform itself, Jean-Pierre has been able to focus on what matters most: the business. Along with vast plans for expansion, he anticipates adding custom functionality to the website, which is easy to do with an open platform like BigCommerce.
“The quality of the app integrations on BigCommerce is so much better. The foundation is so much more solid than other open-source platforms. It’s one of the reasons we moved.”
A growing brand — and a platform built for growth
Since Le Panier Francais returned to BigCommerce, the company has seen impressive results, and is excited to see the changes that have come since he first began using it in 2010.
Just like Le Panier Francais, BigCommerce has grown a lot since its inception. While Jean-Pierre recognizes the platform’s robust feature set, he also appreciates the fact that he can still use it to create specific functions to meet his own business needs, like shipping both nationally and internationally.
“Our next step will be to build our own middleware and have BigCommerce on the forefront, under the form of headless,” he explains. “We want to keep the existing apps to build a continuous process to improve our customer experience. BigCommerce is our platform of choice, and this ecosystem is key to our future.”
“BigCommerce is our platform of choice, and this ecosystem is key to our future.”
A taste of France in your own pantry
The road ahead for Le Panier Francais is filled with growth potential. Jean-Pierre has plans for an in-store shopping experience, travel, and accommodations to Europe, omnichannel selling, and more. When asked if he plans to leverage BigCommerce to manage selling on platforms like Facebook, Amazon, and even in-store, the answer was a resounding yes. “BigCommerce is very resilient,” he said. “There is no difference between selling in the physical or digital world, it’s just one extra step. It’s merging and there’s no way you can disassociate them.”
With all these future plans plus the day-to-day operations, they’re taking time to focus on the present before moving into the future. “There is a lot of potential, but we haven't done it because we're busy, busy, busy,” he says.
Wherever the journey takes Le Panier Francais, Jean-Pierre knows that BigCommerce can help take the family business where they want to go. “BigCommerce is well positioned because it has its finger in everything. The bigger it gets, the more it will attract from the ecosystem, and that will allow us to grow, too.”
Published: May 2022