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Critical Evaluation of The Woolworths Retail Store Website

image shows the logo of The Woolworths Retail Store Website

PART A

Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the website by SWOT analysis.

Woolworths is a leading retail company, with a big supermarket chain in Australia. It is a leader in the retail of grocery and food products controlling a market share of 80 per cent (Woolworths Limited, 2017). It has a broad range of products such as household items, food items, grocery, baby stuff, and meal deliveries making it a one-stop destination for a consumer to shop. There are also some drawbacks to the website. The best way for assessing both the positive as well as negative aspects of the company is by conducting a SWOT analysis.

STRENGTHS: Strength of a company is defined as the main asset or the USP (unique selling point) of the company which makes it a leader among various other competitors.

  1. Woolworths has market leadership in retail. It is the largest network in Australia as well as in New Zealand. (Woolworths Limited, 2017)

  2. Penetrating the market. The website caters to the needs of both high class as well as low-class consumers, ensuring that the private labels remain valuable. This has been possible since it has items on the website which are within the range of premium and low end. The pricing is done in a way that a person of middle, lower or high class can afford the items present on the website.

  3. Good employer. Woolworths is a good paymaster and has implemented many employee-friendly policies which offers increase employee satisfaction.

  4. The website is a good amalgamation of online and brick and mortar-based sales channel.

WEAKNESSES: It signifies the areas of improvement in the company. For Woolworths following weaknesses have been identified.

  1. The website has low international presence. The company owns a huge network only within two countries that is Australia and New Zealand, but it does not expand or explore other foreign markets.

  2. No clarity in positioning: Woolworths focuses on consumers of all the segments using the same products. It confuses the customer regarding the value prices of the products.

  3. Price wars: Woolworths has found to engage in various price wars with its competitors such as Coles. This has led the company to make fatal errors in terms of pricing strategy of products and has contributed to incur huge losses to the company (Biddle, 2016).

Target Audience of The Website.

The company uses a target market strategy for the promotion of its goods in the marketplace (Woolworths Limited. 2017). For instance, it specifically targets the group of high salaried customers for generating a high level of profit. It also targets individual from all age groups in Australia by offering a wide range of products from household items; baby stuff as well as delivering meals. It was found that for targeting the customers, the firm also considers numerous segmental characteristics of the clienteles such as demographic, psychographic, geographical as well as their behavioural factors. For instance, having the knowledge of the demographic factors of the customers helps the company to know the type of product which can be used to sell in that particular location.

Woolworths uses the demographic characteristics such as the age of the customer, the income level, level of education, employment status, saving pattern and gender. This strategic management for building a market and targeting a specific group of people is the reason for the success of the company (Serrat, 2017). On the other hand, the company focuses on the psychographic characteristics, which comprises of various features related to the target customers, for instance, personality traits, lifestyles, expression and attitudes of the customer. Based on these facts the company makes products to satisfy the needs of the people of all kinds. The PESTEL analysis shows that because of the implementation of the SAP-based merchandising system to improve the efficiency of the website and the channel of supplying the product to the end-user (Desai, 2019).

Woolworths USP is that it is focused on digital innovation and integration of new technology to meet the expectations of its customers. Woolworths refurbished its website to tighten its grip in the online retail platform. Even though the contribution of its online sales is significantly small towards its business till present, Woolworths has confidence in that with cheaper and faster internet facilities in various parts of South Africa will increase the number of online shoppers, and the consumers will become more contented with online and mobile shopping rather than shopping from the supermarket as well as local markets (Malgas et al., 2017). As per the latest research, it is suggested that Woolworth's online clientele have doubled over a few years. Traffic from smartphones & tablets increased by 38% and 8% respectively. It has also showcased new look of the site which now provides a full range of the company’s products.

It features almost everything which the clienteles would find in-store. From foodstuffs to fashion, home, beauty as well as financial services, the integration of all services on one platform, providing a one-stop solution for shoppers. “We’ve listened to thousands of Woolworths customers who wanted a simpler, more seamless integration between online and in-store shopping, with the added convenience of being able to access all their Woolies favourites no matter the time, place or device,” (Biddle, 2015). "By using responsive design, their shopping experience remains the same regardless of their device of choice – whether it's a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone (Serrat, 2017).”

The study also reported that a majority of Woolworths online purchases included items of food and household goods. The shopping trend was analysed and it was found that approximately half of the online shoppers shop more than once per month. It was also noted that most of the online shoppers were women. The company stated that more men are joining the online shoppers' list as per the latest trends, particularly for the purpose of buying gifts on special occasions. The major category of the clients involved those who were based in the urban areas, such as Johannesburg and Cape Town.

PART B

Woolworths has established a huge base of loyal consumers with a strong brand identity in the online retail industry, however, lack of transparent sustainable policies and inability to meet the expectations of the customers to provide an eco-friendly product caused its businesses to suffer (Ismagiloiva et al.,2019). The same weakness was noted in Coles, therefore, it is impertinent that Woolworths prospects the situation and seizes the opportunity before it loses all his customers to Coles, if it usurped the idea to go environment friendly before Woolworths does. Even if Woolworth's appearance on social media is vast and its website is ranked the highest in all of Australia, the chanced of bounce rate always present.

This means even if many people visit the website of Woolworths, many people leave it compared to their main competitors such as ALDI and Coles. Furthermore, it is vital that Woolworths is engaged with the consumers on social platforms and for increasing the online traffic on their website (Olanrewaju et al., 2020; Serrat, 2017). There should be frequent quizzes, rewards and offers for the customers so that the website is engaging and interactive. By this strategy, the customers will be present on the website for a longer period as compared to the time which they only spend for shopping, window shopping or rather surfing.

“After conducting social listening, it became seeming that the over usage of plastic bags and packing of products is a major concern for Woolworths' customers. 2.96 out of 3.9billion plastic bags were used by Australians after visiting supermarkets in 2007 (NLA Australian Government, 2009; Gimmer, 2019) Therefore, Woolworths need to establish an environmental and sustainability campaign to both engage with the customers' wishes and reduce their plastic bag usage and over packed products”( Mukonza, & Swarts, 2020).

Improving Branding

Woolworths is eager to recuperate its rank as Australia's most valuable brand after making tectonic shifts in its marketing strategies, improving relationships with the stakeholders, reducing price wars and fostering trustworthy relationships with its suppliers. From the year 1999-2016 Woolworths was ranked Australia's most valuable brand (Grimmer, 2019). Certain market share losses, and poor relationship with the supplier costed Woolworths to lose its crown to Telstra. As per the global brand valuation firm Brand Finance, the value of Woolworths' trademarks and brands dropped to 14 per cent to $10.96 billion.

Analysing Woolworths’ branding, Mr Callaghan said its green symbol carried many positive connotations. Symbolically, Woolworths’ green branding has so many positive consequences; ecologically friendly connotations and of nature. It needs to focus more on more on aligning more green policies to promote its brand. It should look more sustainable products for selling. The company must follow the four Ps model of branding (Keller, 2020). This encompasses the following:

P1: Brand Promise: It is defined as a promise which is expected to be fulfilled. It is synchronous to the objective of the company. For instance, Woolworths main objective is to provide quality and eco-friendly products. So, the brand should promise to fulfil the vision and meaning to the customer’s expectation of a sustainable product. In short, it can be simply put as the promise of value, which is desired by the customers, and is expected from the company (Ismagiloiva et al., 2019).

P2: Brand Positioning: Every customer has a different perspective related to the product and service which the organization is providing. These perspectives are formed either via listening from someone or by direct exposure to the company’s products and services. Woolworths' efforts in for offering better customer experience and bringing satisfaction by meeting their expectations should be at the core of their marketing strategy. It should focus on building a positive perspective in all the customers.

P3: Brand Personality: It means that the brand has a personality and attributes of its own. The brand must stand alone for the company. Just as a personality of a human being is a sum of its beliefs and value system, the brand must stand and exhibit the value and belief of the company. The brand and the objectives of the company must be in sync. 

P4: People: The main pillar of any advanced group or a company is the ability to constantly evolve itself based on research and development team. The R and D teams centres around the methods or means to improvise the businesses based on surveys from customers, marketing and sales trends which provides a direction for implementing a change to improve the structure of the company. It provides a significant rise of opportunities for technical and innovative initiatives to be implemented for the growth and success of the organization.

References:

Biddle, I. (2015). The impact of rewards in the workplace. Busidate23(4), 2.

Biddle, I. (2016). The Wesfarmers/Woolworths duopoly war: The Bunnings vs. Masters battle. Busidate24(3), 3.

Chan, D. M., Iarocci, J., Kapoor, G., Wan, K. M., Stanley-Marbell, P., Andrews, J. J., ... & Hughes, B. D. (2019). U.S. Patent No. 10,223,156. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Desai, C. (2019). Strategy and Strategic Management'. Management for Scientists. Emerald Publishing Limited, 65-84.

Grimmer, L. (2019). Coles, Woolworths and crazed consumers: Industry lacks leadership on plastic crisis: Interview with Matthew Elmas.

Ismagiloiva, E., Hughes, L., Rana, N., & Dwivedi, Y. (2019). Role of Smart Cities in Creating Sustainable Cities and Communities: A Systematic Literature Review. In International Working Conference on Transfer and Diffusion of IT (pp. 311-324). Springer, Cham.

Keller, K. L. (2020). Consumer Research Insights on Brands and Branding: A JCR Curation. Journal of Consumer Research46(5), 995-1001.

Mukonza, C., & Swarts, I. (2020). The influence of green marketing strategies on business performance and corporate image in the retail sector. Business Strategy and the Environment29(3), 838-845.

Malgas, B., Khatle, T., & Mason, R. B. (2017). Job creation in the South African retail sector. The Retail and Marketing Review13(1), 1-13.

NLA, (2009). Annual Reports. Retrieved from https://www.nla.gov.au/corporate-documents/annual-reports

Olanrewaju, A. S. T., Hossain, M. A., Whiteside, N., & Mercieca, P. (2020). Social media and entrepreneurship research: A literature review. International Journal of Information Management50, 90-110.

Serrat, O. (2017). New-age branding and the public sector. In Knowledge Solutions (pp. 375-383). Springer, Singapore.

Woolworths Limited, (2017). Woolworths Group. Retrieved from https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/icms_docs/188795_annual-report-2017.pdf

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