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Case Study: Williams-Sonoma

Read the Internet Mini Case #6 on Williams-Sonoma, and answer the written response questions. The Internet Mini Case #6 on Williams-Sonoma can be found on the Pearson Higher Education web site at this address:
http://www.pearsonhighered.com/wheelen/cases.html. A PDF file containing Mini Case #6 can be found in Unit VIII.

1. If the Williams-Sonoma continues with its present strategies and objectives, where will it be in five years?
2. If you were the CEO of William-Sonoma, what strategies would you recommend, and why?
3. Describe the competitive strategies used by each of Williams-Sonoma's competitors. Which of these strategies
are the most effective? Support your answer.
4. How is Williams-Sonoma using the Internet as a distribution channel now, and how would you recommend that
they use the Internet in the future?

References to Use:
Wheelen, T. L., & Hunger, J. D. (2010). Concepts in strategic management and business policy: Achieving sustainability (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Solution Preview

1. If the Williams-Sonoma continues with its present strategies and objectives, where will it be in five years?
This case study was written in 2005, so I looked at the company's results since that time. The stock growth is very impressive! In August 2014, shares of the company were trading near an all time high (Williams, 2014). By investing in emerging concepts, the company has positioned itself for growth. Most recently, the company ventured into a new concept, Agrarian, to capitalize on gardening at home. The company wants to "build a community around food" (Browne, 2012) to encourage consumers to go from ground to plate. A key to the company's success is its' multi-channel branding strategy, in which the company creates a concept, like Williams-Sonoma Home, and strategically markets the concept in catalogs, on the web, and in brick and mortar locations. An important function of this strategy recently has been a focus first on the web and catalog presence before investing in brick and mortar locations. This allows the company to test market concepts. Since the case study was written, the company has acquired Rejuvenation (a vintage lighting, hardware, furniture and home goods chain) and launched Mark and Graham (a site featuring personalized products). Williams - Sonoma continues to look at its customer base, as well as trends in the marketplace to develop niche categories to lure consumers. By concentrating on the "top 5% to 20% of households by income (Williams, 2014) the organization is able to differentiate itself from mass merchandisers and command higher prices (and higher margins). I would project Williams-Sonoma will continue to grow and be successful in the next five years based on its' strategy.

2. If you were the CEO of William-Sonoma, what strategies would you recommend, and why?
In the last several years, Williams-Sonoma has faced tougher competition in its' cookware shops. There is now greater access to high-end kitchen products in discount stores and warehouse clubs. Sur La Table, a similar (albeit smaller retailer) has grown savvier. Comparing the catalogs of the two retailers highlights a need: William Sonoma's catalogs are virtually unchanged for the last five years. In ...

Solution Summary

This detailed solution answers the Williams-Sonoma (2005) case study questions in detail with current information added. Williams-Sonoma's competitors are discussed, Internet strategy, a forecast is made for next five years, and suggestions are made for the CEO based on company's strengths and weaknesses. The solution is APA formatted and contains examples and references.

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