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Walmart SWOT Analysis / Matrix
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SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that can be used by Walmart managers to do a situational analysis of the firm . It is a handy technique to understand the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) Walmart is facing in its current business environment.
The Walmart is one of the leading companies in its industry. Walmart maintains its prominent position in market by carefully analyzing and reviewing the SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis an immensenly interactive process and requires effective coordination among various departments within the organization such as – marketing, finance, operations, management information systems and strategic planning.
The SWOT Analysis framework facilitates an organization to identify the internal strategic factors such as -strengths and weaknesses, & external strategic factors such as - opportunities and threats. It leads to a 2X2 matrix – also called SWOT Matrix.
The Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) Analysis / Matrix enables the managers of the Walmart to develop four types of strategies:
- SO (strengths-opportunities) Strategies
- WO (weaknesses-opportunities) Strategies
- ST (strengths-threats) Strategies
- WT (weaknesses-threats) Strategies
SWOT Matrix Strategies Objective
The core purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that a company can use to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect Walmart strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.
Step by Step Guide to Walmart SWOT Analysis
Strengths of Walmart – Internal Strategic Factors
As one of the leading companies in its industry, Walmart has numerous strengths that help it to thrive in the market place. These strengths not only help it to protect the market share in existing markets but also help in penetrating new markets. Based on Fern Fort University extensive research – some of the strengths of Walmart are –
- Successful track record of developing new products – product innovation.
- Highly skilled workforce through successful training and learning programs. Walmart is investing huge resources in training and development of its employees resulting in a workforce that is not only highly skilled but also motivated to achieve more.
- Good Returns on Capital Expenditure – Walmart is relatively successful at execution of new projects and generated good returns on capital expenditure by building new revenue streams.
- High level of customer satisfaction – the company with its dedicated customer relationship management department has able to achieve a high level of customer satisfaction among present customers and good brand equity among the potential customers.
- Strong Free Cash Flow – Walmart has strong free cash flows that provide resources in the hand of the company to expand into new projects.
- Strong distribution network – Over the years Walmart has built a reliable distribution network that can reach majority of its potential market.
- Reliable suppliers – It has a strong base of reliable supplier of raw material thus enabling the company to overcome any supply chain bottlenecks.
- Strong Brand Portfolio – Over the years Walmart has invested in building a strong brand portfolio. The SWOT analysis of Walmart just underlines this fact. This brand portfolio can be extremely useful if the organization wants to expand into new product categories.
Weakness of Walmart – Internal Strategic Factors
Weakness are the areas where Walmart can improve upon. Strategy is about making choices and weakness are the areas where an organization can improve using SWOT analysis and build on its competitive advantage and strategic positioning.
- Not very good at product demand forecasting leading to higher rate of missed opportunities compare to its competitors. One of the reason why the days inventory is high compare to its competitors is that Walmart is not very good at demand forecasting thus end up keeping higher inventory both in-house and in channel.
- Investment in Research and Development is below the fastest growing players in the industry. Even though Walmart is spending above the industry average on Research and Development, it has not been able to compete with the leading players in the industry in terms of innovation. It has come across as a mature firm looking forward to bring out products based on tested features in the market.
- The marketing of the products left a lot to be desired. Even though the product is a success in terms of sale but its positioning and unique selling proposition is not clearly defined which can lead to the attacks in this segment from the competitors.
- Days inventory is high compare to the competitors – making the company raise more capital to invest in the channel. This can impact the long term growth of Walmart
- Financial planning is not done properly and efficiently. The current asset ratio and liquid asset ratios suggest that the company can use the cash more efficiently than what it is doing at present.
- High attrition rate in work force – compare to other organizations in the industry Walmart has a higher attrition rate and have to spend a lot more compare to its competitors on training and development of its employees.
- Need more investment in new technologies. Given the scale of expansion and different geographies the company is planning to expand into, Walmart needs to put more money in technology to integrate the processes across the board. Right now the investment in technologies is not at par with the vision of the company.
Opportunities for Walmart – External Strategic Factors
- Government green drive also opens an opportunity for procurement of Walmart products by the state as well as federal government contractors.
- New customers from online channel – Over the past few years the company has invested vast sum of money into the online platform. This investment has opened new sales channel for Walmart. In the next few years the company can leverage this opportunity by knowing its customer better and serving their needs using big data analytics.
- Organization’s core competencies can be a success in similar other products field. A comparative example could be - GE healthcare research helped it in developing better Oil drilling machines.
- Decreasing cost of transportation because of lower shipping prices can also bring down the cost of Walmart’s products thus providing an opportunity to the company - either to boost its profitability or pass on the benefits to the customers to gain market share.
- New trends in the consumer behavior can open up new market for the Walmart . It provides a great opportunity for the organization to build new revenue streams and diversify into new product categories too.
- The market development will lead to dilution of competitor’s advantage and enable Walmart to increase its competitiveness compare to the other competitors.
- The new technology provides an opportunity to Walmart to practices differentiated pricing strategy in the new market. It will enable the firm to maintain its loyal customers with great service and lure new customers through other value oriented propositions.
- The new taxation policy can significantly impact the way of doing business and can open new opportunity for established players such as Walmart to increase its profitability.
Threats Walmart Facing - External Strategic Factors
- No regular supply of innovative products – Over the years the company has developed numerous products but those are often response to the development by other players. Secondly the supply of new products is not regular thus leading to high and low swings in the sales number over period of time.
- Increasing trend toward isolationism in the American economy can lead to similar reaction from other government thus negatively impacting the international sales.
- New environment regulations under Paris agreement (2016) could be a threat to certain existing product categories .
- New technologies developed by the competitor or market disruptor could be a serious threat to the industry in medium to long term future.
- Changing consumer buying behavior from online channel could be a threat to the existing physical infrastructure driven supply chain model.
- Intense competition – Stable profitability has increased the number of players in the industry over last two years which has put downward pressure on not only profitability but also on overall sales.
- Growing strengths of local distributors also presents a threat in some markets as the competition is paying higher margins to the local distributors.
- Imitation of the counterfeit and low quality product is also a threat to Walmart’s product especially in the emerging markets and low income markets.
Limitations of SWOT Analysis for Walmart
Although the SWOT analysis is widely used as a strategic planning tool, the analysis does have its share of limitations.
- Certain capabilities or factors of an organization can be both a strength and weakness at the same time. This is one of the major limitations of SWOT analysis . For example changing environmental regulations can be both a threat to company it can also be an opportunity in a sense that it will enable the company to be on a level playing field or at advantage to competitors if it able to develop the products faster than the competitors.
- SWOT does not show how to achieve a competitive advantage, so it must not be an end in itself.
- The matrix is only a starting point for a discussion on how proposed strategies could be implemented. It provided an evaluation window but not an implementation plan based on strategic competitiveness of Walmart
- SWOT is a static assessment - analysis of status quo with few prospective changes. As circumstances, capabilities, threats, and strategies change, the dynamics of a competitive environment may not be revealed in a single matrix.
- SWOT analysis may lead the firm to overemphasize a single internal or external factor in formulating strategies. There are interrelationships among the key internal and external factors that SWOT does not reveal that may be important in devising strategies.
Weighted SWOT Analysis of Walmart
In light of the above mentioned limitations of the SWOT analysis / matrix, corporate managers decided to provide weightage to each internal strength and weakness of the firm. Organizations also assess the likelihood of events taking place in the coming future and how strong their impact could be on company's performance.
This method is called Weighted SWOT analysis. It is better than doing simplistic SWOT analysis because with Weighted SWOT Analysis Walmart managers can focus on the most critical factors and discount the non-important one. It also solves the long list problem where organizations ends up making a long list but none of the factors deemed too critical.
Limitation of Weighted SWOT analysis of Walmart
This approach also suffers from one major drawback - it focus on individual importance of factor rather than how they are collectively important and impact the business holistically.
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SWOT Worksheet & Template
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References / Citations & Bibliography
- M. E. Porter, Competitive Strategy(New York: Free Press, 1980)
- A. D. Chandler, Strategy and Structure (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1962)
- O. E. Williamson, Markets and Hierarchies(New York: Free Press, 1975);
- L. Wrigley, Divisional Autonomy and Diversification (PhD, Harvard Business School, 1970)
- R. E. White, Generic Business Strategies, Organizational Context and Performance: An Empirical Investigation, Strategic Management Journal7 (1986)
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