Pioneer Valley Books

Project Brief

As a company that strives to promote strong literacy skills in children, Pioneer Valley Books has long been a favorite of teachers, parents, and kids alike. In an effort to expand their customer base, Pioneer Valley Books approached Tunnel 7 and Knectar used Magento web development to overhaul their underperforming parent-specific store.

The new store is directly aimed at encouraging parents to become active in developing their children’s reading skills. It was imperative that the new store provide an intuitive shopping experience that simplified the task of determining which materials are right for a child based on Pioneer Valley Books’ skill level assessment tool.

This site was created in tandem with Derek of Tunnel 7, a talented designer/developer/project manager who was in charge of developing the parent store’s identity and design as well as development of the new store’s front-end theme. While Tunnel 7 was working away on the theme layer of the site we were in charge of making sure the dirty work went smoothly, taking the lead on structural development and consultation on Magento best practices.

Our partnership helped create an brightly colored, easy to navigate, responsive Magento site for a great client. Knectar maintains an outstanding ongoing relationship with Pioneer Valley Books and look forward to continuing to help them develop their online presence.


In order to successfully complete this project our first task was to upgrade Pioneer Valley Books’ existing Magento v1.4 site to the latest version of Magento. This jump included over four years of updates and was no small task.

Next we leveraged Magento’s multi-store functionality. This allowed Pioneer Valley Books’ parent-specific and teacher-specific stores share the same admin back-end, minimizing the amount of product and content maintenance Pioneer Valley Books’ team is responsible for. Despite both stores being managed in one location both stores still feel distinct to Pioneer Valley Books’ customers.

Additionally, the parents-specific store has some nice custom features. A custom “Bookfinder” tool allows customers to narrow their shopping experience down just by answering a few questions. This feature helps direct customers to appropriate educational materials based on the child’s current abilities.

Knectar also integrated the parents store with Amazon Checkout. This simplifies the PVB team’s order fulfillment workflow and allows customers a familiar checkout process via Amazon.

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Collaborator: Tunnel 7