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Sherwin-Williams SWOT Analysis / Matrix
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SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that can be used by Sherwin-Williams managers to do a situational analysis of the organization . It is a useful technique to analyze the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) Sherwin-Williams is facing in its current business environment.
The Sherwin-Williams is one of the leading firms in its industry. Sherwin-Williams 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 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 enables the managers of the Sherwin-Williams 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 an organization can use to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect Sherwin-Williams strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.
Step by Step Guide to Sherwin-Williams SWOT Analysis
Strengths of Sherwin-Williams – Internal Strategic Factors
As one of the leading organizations in its industry, Sherwin-Williams has numerous strengths that enable 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 Sherwin-Williams are –
- Highly skilled workforce through successful training and learning programs. Sherwin-Williams 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.
- Superb Performance in New Markets – Sherwin-Williams 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.
- Strong distribution network – Over the years Sherwin-Williams has built a reliable distribution network that can reach majority of its potential market.
- Automation of activities brought consistency of quality to Sherwin-Williams products and has enabled the company to scale up and scale down based on the demand conditions in the market.
- Good Returns on Capital Expenditure – Sherwin-Williams is relatively successful at execution of new projects and generated good returns on capital expenditure by building new revenue streams.
- 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.
- Highly successful at Go To Market strategies for its products.
- 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.
Weakness of Sherwin-Williams – Internal Strategic Factors
Weakness are the areas where Sherwin-Williams 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 Sherwin-Williams 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.
- 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.
- 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. Sherwin-Williams has to build internal feedback mechanism directly from sales team on ground to counter these challenges.
- Need more investment in new technologies. Given the scale of expansion and different geographies the company is planning to expand into, Sherwin-Williams 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.
- 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 Sherwin-Williams
- Limited success outside core business – Even though Sherwin-Williams is one of the leading organizations in its industry it has faced challenges in moving to other product segments with its present culture.
Opportunities for Sherwin-Williams – External Strategic Factors
- Decreasing cost of transportation because of lower shipping prices can also bring down the cost of Sherwin-Williams’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.
- 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 Sherwin-Williams in other product categories.
- Opening up of new markets because of government agreement – the adoption of new technology standard and government free trade agreement has provided Sherwin-Williams an opportunity to enter a new emerging market.
- The market development will lead to dilution of competitor’s advantage and enable Sherwin-Williams to increase its competitiveness compare to the other competitors.
- Lower inflation rate – The low inflation rate bring more stability in the market, enable credit at lower interest rate to the customers of Sherwin-Williams.
- 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 Sherwin-Williams to drive home its advantage in new technology and gain market share in the new product category.
- 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 Sherwin-Williams. In the next few years the company can leverage this opportunity by knowing its customer better and serving their needs using big data analytics.
- The new technology provides an opportunity to Sherwin-Williams 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.
Threats Sherwin-Williams 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.
- New technologies developed by the competitor or market disruptor could be a serious threat to the industry in medium to long term future.
- Imitation of the counterfeit and low quality product is also a threat to Sherwin-Williams’s product especially in the emerging markets and low income markets.
- Changing consumer buying behavior from online channel could be a threat to the existing physical infrastructure driven supply chain model.
- 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.
- New environment regulations under Paris agreement (2016) could be a threat to certain existing product categories .
- Rising raw material can pose a threat to the Sherwin-Williams profitability.
- Growing strengths of local distributors also presents a threat in some markets as the competition is paying higher margins to the local distributors.
Limitations of SWOT Analysis for Sherwin-Williams
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 Sherwin-Williams
- 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 Sherwin-Williams
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 Sherwin-Williams 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 Sherwin-Williams
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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