Walgreens SWOT Analysis / Matrix

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SWOT analysis is a vital strategic planning tool that can be used by Walgreens managers to do a situational analysis of the firm . It is a handy technique to map out the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) Walgreens is facing in its current business environment.

The Walgreens is one of the leading organizatations in its industry. Walgreens maintains its prominent position in market by critically analyzing and reviewing the SWOT analysis.  SWOT analysis an immensenly 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 Walgreens to develop four types of strategies:

  • SO (strengths-opportunities) Strategies
  • WO (weaknesses-opportunities) Strategies
  • ST (strengths-threats) Strategies
  •  WT (weaknesses-threats) Strategies
Walgreens swot analysis / matrix

SWOT Matrix Strategies Objective

The main purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that a firm can utilize to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect Walgreens strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.

Step by Step Guide to Walgreens SWOT Analysis

Strengths of Walgreens – Internal Strategic Factors


As one of the leading companies in its industry, Walgreens 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 Walgreens are –

  • 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 Walgreens has invested in building a strong brand portfolio. The SWOT analysis of Walgreens just underlines this fact. This brand portfolio can be extremely useful if the organization wants to expand into new product categories.
  • Strong distribution network – Over the years Walgreens has built a reliable distribution network that can reach majority of its potential market.
  • Successful track record of developing new products – product innovation.
  • 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.
  • Good Returns on Capital Expenditure – Walgreens is relatively successful at execution of new projects and generated good returns on capital expenditure by building new revenue streams.
  • 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.
  • Automation of activities brought consistency of quality to Walgreens products and has enabled the company to scale up and scale down based on the demand conditions in the market.


Weakness of Walgreens – Internal Strategic Factors


Weakness are the areas where Walgreens can improve upon. Strategy is about making choices and weakness are the areas where a firm can improve using SWOT analysis and build on its competitive advantage and strategic positioning.

  • 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. Walgreens has to build internal feedback mechanism directly from sales team on ground to counter these challenges.
  • Organization structure is only compatible with present business model thus limiting expansion in adjacent product segments.
  • High attrition rate in work force – compare to other organizations in the industry Walgreens has a higher attrition rate and have to spend a lot more compare to its competitors on training and development of its employees.
  • The profitability ratio and Net Contribution % of Walgreens are below the industry average.
  • Not highly successful at integrating firms with different work culture. As mentioned earlier even though Walgreens is successful at integrating small companies it has its share of failure to merge firms that have different work culture.
  • 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 Walgreens is not very good at demand forecasting thus end up keeping higher inventory both in-house and in channel.
  • There are gaps in the product range sold by the company. This lack of choice can give a new competitor a foothold in the market.

Opportunities for Walgreens – External Strategic Factors

  • Opening up of new markets because of government agreement – the adoption of new technology standard and government free trade agreement has provided Walgreens an opportunity to enter a new emerging market.
  • The new technology provides an opportunity to Walgreens 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.
  • 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 Walgreens. In the next few years the company can leverage this opportunity by knowing its customer better and serving their needs using big data analytics.
  • 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 Walgreens in other product categories.
  • 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.
  • 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 Walgreens to drive home its advantage in new technology and gain market share in the new product category.
  • The market development will lead to dilution of competitor’s advantage and enable Walgreens to increase its competitiveness compare to the other competitors.
  • Decreasing cost of transportation because of lower shipping prices can also bring down the cost of Walgreens’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.

Threats Walgreens Facing - External Strategic Factors

  • Rising pay level especially movements such as $15 an hour and increasing prices in the China can lead to serious pressure on profitability of Walgreens
  • Shortage of skilled workforce in certain global market represents a threat to steady growth of profits for Walgreens   in those markets.
  • Rising raw material can pose a threat to the Walgreens profitability.
  • Increasing trend toward isolationism in the American economy can lead to similar reaction from other government thus negatively impacting the international sales.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • New environment regulations under Paris agreement (2016) could be a threat to certain existing product categories .
  • Liability laws in different countries are different and Walgreens may be exposed to various liability claims given change in policies in those markets.

Limitations of SWOT Analysis for Walgreens

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 Walgreens
  • 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 Walgreens

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 Walgreens 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 Walgreens

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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Example of Weighted SWOT Analysis

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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)