Banyen Books and Sound

0 min read

Tuesday Chutter

Banyen Books & Sound is Canada’s most comprehensive alternative philosophies bookstore, offering a spectrum of resources for those interested in everything from contemporary spirituality to science, psychology, art, and much more. Banyen opened in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood in 1970; and along with maintaining their bricks-and-mortar presence, have since transitioned from a non-transactional website to an online store that offers over 28,000 products. In keeping pace with technology trends, Banyen takes concrete steps to maintain its prosperity as an independent bookstore in an industry dominated by giants.

The Banyen website build focused on ecommerce functionality and building a vibrant online community to support and expand their existing community. The warmth and welcoming experience of their physical store is communicated in their online presence.

The Twist

To our knowledge, Banyen.com is one of the largest websites built on Drupal Commerce. Banyen’s 28,000+ titles lead to interesting challenges for buyers as well as site administrators. On one hand, the discovery mechanisms and user interface needed to be intuitive, extensive and efficient.

On the other hand, the management of such an inventory can be quite involved. The integration with the point of sale (POS) system – Wordstock, a technology that is not web aware with no external API – was key to the success of this implementation.

The Solution

The Jibe engaged the Banyen team in an extensive multi-phase discovery, information architecture, and usability process with the goal of optimizing the workflows and user experience of all aspects of the website. Product search and navigation are made simple by providing filters such as author, publisher, publication date, genre, and staff recommendations.

Integration with the POS allows for key activities such as inventory check and payment data in quasi real-time, while relying on a daily synchronization to manage product changes. The Jibe customized reporting on the Banyen back end so that the payment transactions report would include refund transactions. Shipping is built upon a matrix that allows for incremental fees based on order structure and delivery destination.

The Results

The site supports the change in habits of existing customers and helps preserve the success Banyen has had in the past, but also expands their reach to increase market share. The scalable and flexible Drupal Commerce suite allows for a growing inventory, seamless integration with their payment gateway of choice, and unifies sales and community. The sites visual aesthetic was developed by local graphic designer Suzanne Stromotich, bringing the personality of the physical store to the web.

Now that the Banyen team has a simple, easy to work with content management system, they are free to engage with their community through blog updates, a stream of book reviews, staff recommendations, and events feed. Drupal was the preferred open source solution to allow non-technical updates by Banyen team members.


Open since 1970, Banyen Books & Sound has become Canada's richest source for body-mind-spirit resource. The Jibe team took on the job of both re-architecting and crafting a new e-commerce website for us. Offering some 28,000 products, banyen.com is a fully functioning online store, its sales increasing steadily.

Kolin Lymworth Founder and Director Banyen Books & Sound