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Alibaba SWOT Analysis / Matrix
Essays, Term Papers & Research Papers
SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that can be used by Alibaba managers to do a situational analysis of the company . It is a handy technique to analyze the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) Alibaba is facing in its current business environment.
The Alibaba is one of the leading companies in its industry. Alibaba maintains its prominent position in market by critically analyzing and reviewing the SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis a highly interactive process and requires effective coordination among various departments within the firm such as – marketing, finance, operations, management information systems and strategic planning.
The SWOT Analysis framework enables 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 helps the managers of the Alibaba 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 main purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that an organization can utilize to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect Alibaba strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.
Step by Step Guide to Alibaba SWOT Analysis
Strengths of Alibaba – Internal Strategic Factors
As one of the leading organizations in its industry, Alibaba 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 Alibaba are –
- 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.
- Successful track record of integrating complimentary firms through mergers & acquisition. It has successfully integrated number of technology companies in the past few years to streamline its operations and to build a reliable supply chain.
- Superb Performance in New Markets – Alibaba has built expertise at entering new markets and making success of them. The expansion has helped the organization to build new revenue stream and diversify the economic cycle risk in the markets it operates in.
- Highly successful at Go To Market strategies for its products.
- Strong Free Cash Flow – Alibaba has strong free cash flows that provide resources in the hand of the company to expand into new projects.
- Strong dealer community – It has built a culture among distributor & dealers where the dealers not only promote company’s products but also invest in training the sales team to explain to the customer how he/she can extract the maximum benefits out of the products.
- Reliable suppliers – It has a strong base of reliable supplier of raw material thus enabling the company to overcome any supply chain bottlenecks.
- Highly skilled workforce through successful training and learning programs. Alibaba 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.
Weakness of Alibaba – Internal Strategic Factors
Weakness are the areas where Alibaba 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.
- Investment in Research and Development is below the fastest growing players in the industry. Even though Alibaba 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.
- Organization structure is only compatible with present business model thus limiting expansion in adjacent product segments.
- Need more investment in new technologies. Given the scale of expansion and different geographies the company is planning to expand into, Alibaba 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.
- The company has not being able to tackle the challenges present by the new entrants in the segment and has lost small market share in the niche categories. Alibaba has to build internal feedback mechanism directly from sales team on ground to counter these challenges.
- Not highly successful at integrating firms with different work culture. As mentioned earlier even though Alibaba is successful at integrating small companies it has its share of failure to merge firms that have different work culture.
- Limited success outside core business – Even though Alibaba is one of the leading organizations in its industry it has faced challenges in moving to other product segments with its present culture.
- 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.
Opportunities for Alibaba – External Strategic Factors
- Stable free cash flow provides opportunities to invest in adjacent product segments. With more cash in bank the company can invest in new technologies as well as in new products segments. This should open a window of opportunity for Alibaba in other product categories.
- Economic uptick and increase in customer spending, after years of recession and slow growth rate in the industry, is an opportunity for Alibaba to capture new customers and increase its market share.
- New environmental policies – The new opportunities will create a level playing field for all the players in the industry. It represent a great opportunity for Alibaba to drive home its advantage in new technology and gain market share in the new product category.
- 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 Alibaba’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.
- The new taxation policy can significantly impact the way of doing business and can open new opportunity for established players such as Alibaba to increase its profitability.
- The new technology provides an opportunity to Alibaba 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.
- Lower inflation rate – The low inflation rate bring more stability in the market, enable credit at lower interest rate to the customers of Alibaba.
Threats Alibaba Facing - External Strategic Factors
- Shortage of skilled workforce in certain global market represents a threat to steady growth of profits for Alibaba in those markets.
- Increasing trend toward isolationism in the American economy can lead to similar reaction from other government thus negatively impacting the international sales.
- 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.
- Rising pay level especially movements such as $15 an hour and increasing prices in the China can lead to serious pressure on profitability of Alibaba
- Changing consumer buying behavior from online channel could be a threat to the existing physical infrastructure driven supply chain model.
- The company can face lawsuits in various markets given - different laws and continuous fluctuations regarding product standards in those markets.
- The demand of the highly profitable products is seasonal in nature and any unlikely event during the peak season may impact the profitability of the company in short to medium term.
- As the company is operating in numerous countries it is exposed to currency fluctuations especially given the volatile political climate in number of markets across the world.
Limitations of SWOT Analysis for Alibaba
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 Alibaba
- 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 Alibaba
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 Alibaba 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 Alibaba
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.
Example of Weighted SWOT Analysis
You can email us to get an example document of Weighted SWOT analysis.
SWOT Worksheet & Template
If you like to do your own SWOT analysis or want to make your own Weighted SWOT SWOT matrix then feel free to download Fern Fort University SWOT Analysis Template.
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)