Improving Ecommerce Efficiency with Kanban

Improving Ecommerce Efficiency with Kanban


Kanban, as a philosophy of lean management, originated in Japan. The system visualizes the entire process, from order placement to delivery, allowing the company to streamline and reduce waste.

E-commerce has revolutionized the way we buy and sell goods and services. Today, this industry is a global powerhouse with millions of daily transactions.


Efficient order processing and fulfillment are the core of any successful e-commerce business. These two elements are critical to customer service and maintaining operational efficiency.

Order processing is the sequence of steps from the moment a customer places an order to the moment their goods are picked, packaged and prepared for delivery.

Order fulfillment includes stock holding, order processing, product packaging, and delivery to customers.

Both aspects are an integral part of operations and directly affect the quality of customer service.

In e-commerce, Kanban can help streamline order processing and fulfillment. It provides a transparent view of the status and progress of work, allowing businesses to identify bottlenecks, manage inventory better, and fulfill orders more efficiently.

Kanban Principles: Fundamentals

Kanban works on several basic principles.

  1. First, it is a visualization that presents work items and workflow steps for easy understanding.

  2. The second is work-in-progress (WIP) restriction, which helps manage workflow and prevents overload.

  3. The third principle is flow management, which aims to create a smooth workflow, and the last is continuous improvement, in which the process is regularly reviewed and improved.

How Kanban optimizes order processing

Implementing Kanban may entail describing an order processing workflow for an online store. Teams can better understand the process by visualizing each step, from order placement to delivery. This helps to identify problem areas and bottlenecks.


Teams can avoid overload and stay focused by setting a maximum workload. Limiting the number of orders processed simultaneously in e-commerce helps streamline processes and ensure high quality.

Kanban improves flow by organizing a constant flow of tasks in the system. This ensures that orders processed through e-commerce move from one stage to the next without hiccups or delays. This constant flow can speed up order fulfillment and increase customer satisfaction.

Frequent system reviews allow changes based on knowledge gained from day-to-day operations. This involves continuous improvement of the order processing system for e-commerce businesses based on feedback and observation. The result is a continuous increase in efficiency and improved customer service.

E-Commerce Implementation: Current Situation and Challenges

E-commerce has shown exponential growth in recent years. As a result, the need for efficient and effective e-commerce order fulfillment strategies is more urgent than ever.

The work process, in essence, comes down to receiving, processing and delivering orders to customers. It includes a series of steps from warehousing and inventory management to packaging and shipping.

Technology has played a significant role in shaping e-commerce. Automation, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are used to improve order accuracy. Also, to improve operational efficiency and ensure the quality of customer service. Moreover, the growth of omnichannel retail has required the integration of online and offline order fulfillment strategies.

Challenges in e-commerce

Despite technological advances, e-commerce companies still face numerous challenges:


  • Inventory Management: Keeping an accurate inventory count and storing it properly can be a major challenge, especially as your business grows. Incorrect inventory management can lead to shortages or surpluses of inventory, negatively impacting the business.

  • Delivery time optimization: With giants like Amazon offering same-day or next-day shipping, customer expectations for delivery speed have risen. Meeting these expectations while maintaining profitability is a challenge.

  • Order Accuracy: Critical to customer satisfaction. However, assembly and packaging errors can occur, resulting in returns and negative feedback.

  • Scalability: E-commerce businesses can experience rapid growth, and the ability to scale order fulfillment operations to meet growing demand is a common challenge.

  • Returns Processing: Effective returns management is essential, as a well-functioning return process can lead to repeat business. However, processing returns can be complex and time-consuming.

  • Sustainable development. As consumer awareness of the environmental impact grows, many e-commerce businesses must incorporate environmentally friendly practices into their order fulfillment processes. This includes using sustainable packaging and optimizing shipping routes to reduce carbon emissions.

Understanding the landscape and challenges associated with e-commerce is the first step to improving it.

Practical examples of using Kanban in e-commerce

Toyota: A multinational automaker uses Kanban to manage its car manufacturing process. The Kanban board consists of three sections: Backlog, In Progress, and Done, which help team members coordinate their work and track the status of each task to completion. This made Toyota's workflow more efficient and reduced the time to complete a task.

Spotify: The popular music streaming service also uses Kanban. They use a simple board with three sections: To Do, In Progress, and Done. Additional cards, such as Postponed and Blocked, manage tasks that take longer or cannot be worked on for any reason. Kanban helped Spotify manage its workflow and allow more time for creativity.

Pixar: An animation and film production company uses Kanban boards in different departments such as concept art, modeling, production management, etc. The departments are divided into several columns with different types of cards in each column depending on their status. Team members update statuses as work is completed, allowing other teams to schedule their work.

Apple: Uses a modified version of Kanban called Dynamic Kanban that helps employees prioritize tasks based on current needs. Their workflow begins with a backlog section, followed by a Progress section where different teams perform work, and finally ends with a Done section when it is completed. This approach helps to create an atmosphere of cooperation to achieve goals.

Zara: A fashion retailer uses kanban directly in their stores, dividing their workflows into different stages such as pre-control (prioritization), control (in progress), and post-control (completed tasks). Their Kanban board contains all the information they need to make decisions related to workflows, allowing them to make more accurate business decisions.

Nike: Known for its lean manufacturing strategy, Nike solved the problem of poor factory working conditions with this approach. While information about their direct use of Kanban is limited, their Lean strategy is closely tied to business processes.

Implementation Tips

Implementing Kanban in an e-commerce environment involves several key steps:

  1. First, it is important to understand the current order processing and fulfillment processes fully. This will serve as a basis for improvement.

  2. It is then necessary to visualize the various steps of the process physically or digitally. It can range from a simple board with stickers representing orders to a complex digital Kanban board with built-in e-commerce systems.

  3. The third step is to introduce limits on current work. This can be challenging as it requires a good understanding of business opportunities. It's often better to start with a higher limit and gradually lower it as the team becomes more efficient.

  4. Next comes flow control. This includes monitoring and process adjustments to ensure a smooth and stable workflow.

  5. Finally, a culture of continuous improvement should be created in which the team regularly reviews the process and makes necessary improvements.

Possible problems during implementation

A new project management methodology such as Kanban presents several unique challenges. The likelihood of a successful transition will increase if these potential problems are identified and anticipated in advance.


The use of Kanban often faces resistance to change. Team members may feel comfortable with how things are done now and hesitate to adopt a new approach. This can be remedied through education, ongoing support, and a thorough explanation of the benefits. It can be helpful to ensure that each team member is informed of their responsibilities under the new system and how it will benefit the project to encourage participation and ease the transition.

Another potential problem is a misunderstanding of the principles of the system. Kanban goes beyond visualizing work on a whiteboard and emphasizes continuous improvement, flow, and WIP reduction. It is an integrated approach to project management.

If the Kanban board is used incorrectly, problems can arise.

The board must be constantly carefully updated by each team member to accurately reflect the project's current state. Proper movement of tasks helps reduce confusion and speed up work. With regular evaluations and updates, the board can remain a valuable tool for the entire team.

Sometimes the kanban system becomes overloaded, leading to difficulties and hindering development.

The amount of work actively being done at any given time should be kept to a minimum to maintain a continuous flow and prevent system overload.

Teams that anticipate these potential issues and take action to address them will be able to successfully implement Kanban and reap the benefits of this project management technique.

E-commerce, a constantly evolving field, constantly offers new perspectives and challenges. Future developments in this sector are likely to affect how businesses operate.


E-commerce will be influenced by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies. These innovations help organizations anticipate future trends, personalize experiences, and understand consumer behavior.

AI-powered chatbots will improve customer service. And machine learning will affect inventory management, which is very important for e-commerce companies.

The online shopping experience will be enhanced by integrating augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) into e-commerce platforms. Customer confidence in their purchases is boosted by the ability of augmented reality (AR) to visualize objects in their environment.

The use of Kanban is critical in light of these trends. This methodology can simplify procedures for e-commerce companies. For example, a digital Kanban board might offer real-time inventory-level updates. Shortages or overstocking can be avoided. In addition, it can help manage orders from pickup to delivery, increasing efficiency and transparency.

In addition, this strategy can help solve customer service issues. Teams can prioritize tasks and ensure fast resolution by visualizing the status of each request. Customer satisfaction can be improved, which is important in a cutthroat e-commerce environment.

In conclusion, there is exciting potential for e-commerce in the future. It will continue to evolve with changes in customer behavior and technological improvements.

Kanban Implementation Resources

There are many resources available to help businesses implement Kanban. These include:

  • Books: "Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business" by David J. Anderson and "Inside Kanban" by Mike Burroughs are two seminal works on this topic.

  • Online courses. Websites like Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer courses for Kanban principles and applications.

  • Consulting services. Many consulting firms specialize in lean and agile methods, including Kanban, which can provide personalized guidance and support.

  • Software Tools: There are many digital tools available to support Kanban implementation. These include Rememo, Trello, Jira, Asana, and more.

Remember that successful Kanban implementation requires constant learning and improvement. Use these ideas and resources as a starting point, but don't be afraid to adapt and innovate based on your unique business needs and challenges.

Final thoughts

Using Kanban in e-commerce transactions can result in streamlined processes, improved customer satisfaction, and increased profitability. While it takes effort, the potential benefits make it a worthwhile investment for any business looking to improve its order processing and fulfillment.


Kanban can transform business processes and help businesses operate more efficiently, provide better service, and ultimately become more successful.