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United Natural Foods SWOT Analysis / Matrix
Essays, Term Papers & Research Papers
SWOT analysis is a vital strategic planning tool that can be used by United Natural Foods managers to do a situational analysis of the firm . It is a useful technique to map out the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) United Natural Foods is facing in its current business environment.
The United Natural Foods is one of the leading organizatations in its industry. United Natural Foods maintains its dominant 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 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 known as SWOT Matrix.
The Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) Analysis / Matrix helps the managers of the United Natural Foods 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 primary purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that an organization can utilize to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect United Natural Foods strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.
Step by Step Guide to United Natural Foods SWOT Analysis
Strengths of United Natural Foods – Internal Strategic Factors
As one of the leading organizations in its industry, United Natural Foods 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 United Natural Foods are –
- Highly skilled workforce through successful training and learning programs. United Natural Foods 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.
- 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.
- Successful track record of developing new products – product innovation.
- Strong Free Cash Flow – United Natural Foods has strong free cash flows that provide resources in the hand of the company to expand into new projects.
- 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.
- Reliable suppliers – It has a strong base of reliable supplier of raw material thus enabling the company to overcome any supply chain bottlenecks.
- 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.
- Strong distribution network – Over the years United Natural Foods has built a reliable distribution network that can reach majority of its potential market.
Weakness of United Natural Foods – Internal Strategic Factors
Weakness are the areas where United Natural Foods can improve upon. Strategy is about making choices and weakness are the areas where a company can improve using SWOT analysis and build on its competitive advantage and strategic positioning.
- Organization structure is only compatible with present business model thus limiting expansion in adjacent product segments.
- The profitability ratio and Net Contribution % of United Natural Foods are below the industry average.
- 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 United Natural Foods
- 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. United Natural Foods has to build internal feedback mechanism directly from sales team on ground to counter these challenges.
- 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.
- Limited success outside core business – Even though United Natural Foods is one of the leading organizations in its industry it has faced challenges in moving to other product segments with its present culture.
- Need more investment in new technologies. Given the scale of expansion and different geographies the company is planning to expand into, United Natural Foods 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 United Natural Foods – External Strategic Factors
- 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 United Natural Foods 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 United Natural Foods. In the next few years the company can leverage this opportunity by knowing its customer better and serving their needs using big data analytics.
- Economic uptick and increase in customer spending, after years of recession and slow growth rate in the industry, is an opportunity for United Natural Foods to capture new customers and increase its market share.
- The market development will lead to dilution of competitor’s advantage and enable United Natural Foods to increase its competitiveness compare to the other competitors.
- The new technology provides an opportunity to United Natural Foods 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.
- Opening up of new markets because of government agreement – the adoption of new technology standard and government free trade agreement has provided United Natural Foods an opportunity to enter a new emerging market.
- The new taxation policy can significantly impact the way of doing business and can open new opportunity for established players such as United Natural Foods to increase its profitability.
- 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 United Natural Foods in other product categories.
Threats United Natural Foods Facing - External Strategic Factors
- The company can face lawsuits in various markets given - different laws and continuous fluctuations regarding product standards in those markets.
- 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.
- 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 United Natural Foods
- Liability laws in different countries are different and United Natural Foods may be exposed to various liability claims given change in policies in those markets.
- Growing strengths of local distributors also presents a threat in some markets as the competition is paying higher margins to the local distributors.
- 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 United Natural Foods
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 United Natural Foods
- 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 United Natural Foods
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 United Natural Foods 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 United Natural Foods
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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