Bon-Ton Stores SWOT Analysis / Matrix

Essays, Term Papers & Research Papers

SWOT analysis is a vital strategic planning tool that can be used by Bon-Ton Stores managers to do a situational analysis of the organization . It is a useful technique to understand the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) Bon-Ton Stores is facing in its current business environment.

The Bon-Ton Stores is one of the leading firms in its industry. Bon-Ton Stores maintains its dominant 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 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 Bon-Ton Stores to develop four types of strategies:

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

SWOT Matrix Strategies Objective

The main purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that a company can use to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect Bon-Ton Stores strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.

Step by Step Guide to Bon-Ton Stores SWOT Analysis

Strengths of Bon-Ton Stores – Internal Strategic Factors

As one of the leading firms in its industry, Bon-Ton Stores 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 Bon-Ton Stores are –

  • Successful track record of developing new products – product innovation.
  • 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.
  • Highly skilled workforce through successful training and learning programs. Bon-Ton Stores 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.
  • Strong Free Cash Flow – Bon-Ton Stores has strong free cash flows that provide resources in the hand of the company to expand into new projects.
  • 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.
  • Strong Brand Portfolio – Over the years Bon-Ton Stores has invested in building a strong brand portfolio. The SWOT analysis of Bon-Ton Stores just underlines this fact. This brand portfolio can be extremely useful if the organization wants to expand into new product categories.
  • Superb Performance in New Markets – Bon-Ton Stores 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.
  • Reliable suppliers – It has a strong base of reliable supplier of raw material thus enabling the company to overcome any supply chain bottlenecks.

Weakness of Bon-Ton Stores – Internal Strategic Factors

Weakness are the areas where Bon-Ton Stores 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.

  • 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 Bon-Ton Stores is not very good at demand forecasting thus end up keeping higher inventory both in-house and in channel.
  • Need more investment in new technologies. Given the scale of expansion and different geographies the company is planning to expand into, Bon-Ton Stores 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.
  • Investment in Research and Development is below the fastest growing players in the industry. Even though Bon-Ton Stores 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.
  • Limited success outside core business – Even though Bon-Ton Stores 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.
  • The profitability ratio and Net Contribution % of Bon-Ton Stores are below the industry average.

Opportunities for Bon-Ton Stores – External Strategic Factors

  • The new technology provides an opportunity to Bon-Ton Stores 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 Bon-Ton Stores an opportunity to enter a new emerging market.
  • 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 Bon-Ton Stores 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 Bon-Ton Stores. In the next few years the company can leverage this opportunity by knowing its customer better and serving their needs using big data analytics.
  • New trends in the consumer behavior can open up new market for the Bon-Ton Stores . It provides a great opportunity for the organization to build new revenue streams and diversify into new product categories too.
  • Government green drive also opens an opportunity for procurement of Bon-Ton Stores products by the state as well as federal government contractors.
  • The new taxation policy can significantly impact the way of doing business and can open new opportunity for established players such as Bon-Ton Stores to increase its profitability.

Threats Bon-Ton Stores Facing - External Strategic Factors

  • 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 Bon-Ton Stores
  • Imitation of the counterfeit and low quality product is also a threat to Bon-Ton Stores’s product especially in the emerging markets and low income markets.
  • Liability laws in different countries are different and Bon-Ton Stores may be exposed to various liability claims given change in policies in those markets.
  • Changing consumer buying behavior from online channel could be a threat to the existing physical infrastructure driven supply chain model.
  • Shortage of skilled workforce in certain global market represents a threat to steady growth of profits for Bon-Ton Stores   in those markets.
  • New technologies developed by the competitor or market disruptor could be a serious threat to the industry in medium to long term future.
  • Increasing trend toward isolationism in the American economy can lead to similar reaction from other government thus negatively impacting the international sales.

Limitations of SWOT Analysis for Bon-Ton Stores

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 Bon-Ton Stores
  • 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 Bon-Ton Stores

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 Bon-Ton Stores 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 Bon-Ton Stores

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)