Case: In the Zone
1. In the brief description of AutoZone, effective strategic management initiatives taken by the company is illustrated as one of the most important contributors to the company’s success. Strategic management initiatives made the company to achieve a competitive advantage in the market. The company’s strategies like, effective floor management, paying attention to details, effective customer service, efficient task management system, extensive customer research study enabled the company to enhance their service and mold their day-to-day operations.
2. AutoZone has incorporated its strategic decision in their business and the action contributed to the company’s enviable track record. AutoZone’s major functional strategies such as customer-friendly attitude and attention to minute details greatly supported their journey towards success. In addition, implementation of a task management system also helped to manage the tasks of store level associates such as updating pricing, fixture and signs. With effective implementation of task management system, employees of AutoZone came to know which tasks are the most important to complete each day. One of the major elements the company used in its competitive strategy is customer relationships. As the company’s pledge states, ‘AutoZone always puts the customer first’ positioned them differently in the market. Extensive customer research study used to carry out frequently by the company executives in order to evaluate the fluctuating needs of the customers. This helped the company to forecast customers’ needs and act accordingly.
3. In the website, AutoZone claims that their company is the leading retailer and a leading distributor of automotive replacement parts and accessories in the U.S. Their pledge and value given on the website as follows:
AutoZoners always put customers first! We know our parts and products. Our stores look great! We’ve got the best merchandise at the right price.
an AutoZoner always…
puts customers first cares about people strives for exceptional performance energizes others embraces diversity helps teams succeed
AutoZone is striving well to match its pledge and values with the functioning of business. AutoZone cares about people and they are indulging in various charitable activities. AutoZone supports United Way organizations by providing a contribution based on the number of stores or distribution centers located in their service area. AutoZone supports nonprofit organizations in AutoZone communities through in-kind giving. Eligible organizations can request AutoZone merchandise cards to support various activities, including car washes, silent auctions, giveaways and more. In addition, they are environmentally responsible too. According to the website, “We do all we can to meet the needs of the present while protecting our future”. The company collects and recycles 8,5 million gallons of used oil each year, lead-acid batteries, scrap metal (rotors, brake pads, radiators and water pumps). They utilize cool-roof technology and implement a fleet maintenance cradle-to-grave recycling program for tires, batteries, coolants and lubricants. They value the opinion of customers hence they have provided a forum for customer to exchange the feedback. In addition, employees of the company are available always for employees by providing trustworthy advices.
4. While taking strategic initiatives, the company needs to ensure that they have the right merchandise, at the right price, at the right time in order to deepen their relationship with the customer. As the company keeps their customers first, they cannot compromise on the customer satisfaction at any level. Another challenge the company faces is that even though the company is doing good in their business, it has not achieved the brand recognition, which its main competitor has. Effective strategy management helps to overcome the challenge. Strategic initiatives like, capitalize on the incredible opportunity in the commercial side of the business, continue the professional sales training efforts to equip AutoZone with more sales, continue to focus on providing great customer service, continue to grow sales in both retail and commercial, continue to improve inventory productivity by refining our category management initiatives and improved utilization of hub store network, continue to be good steward of the environment and look for additional ways to reduce fuel consumption and conserve energy in other ways can help the company to deal with the challenges.
Case: Game Not Over, Not Yet
1. As one of the leading interactive environment software companies, EA lives and dies by its innovation. EA understands the forgotten aspect of creativity, which is a discipline. EAs competitive advantage lies on identifying the right idea, assembling the best development team, solving the inevitable technical problems, creating a game that people want to play, getting all the work done on schedule, getting it to market at the right time and knowing how to generate buzz about it in an increasingly crowded market.
2. It starts with the discipline of understanding ideas. Game designers tried to understand the creative centre of a game to understand what the game is about. Then, the company tried to understand customers by using focus groups to pinpoint desires, likes and dislikes. The company also strived hard to share best practices and technologies through the company’s intranet libraries. Therefore, there is the discipline of developing the next generation of creative leaders. And also, there is discipline of studying the competition. And finally, it is the discipline of project management.
3. Employees at the company are the greatest resources of the company. Almost everyone at EA grew up playing the game. They love what they do and are inspired to look for new and creative challenges not only for the hard-core gamers, but for the casual gamers as well. The company raises money by selling the games. Paranoia has been a critical part of EA success. That is a significant investment risk riding on the company’s ability to be innovative.
4. EA has to be concerned with stakeholders like employees and consumers. Every company changes their strategies depending on the customers. In the case of EA, customers’ need of creative games indirectly forces the strategic managers at the company to design creativity oriented games.
Case: Dressing Up
1. Firstly, strategic managers at Kohl need to assess the changing needs of customers. They need to introduce trendy products and change their approach as per the needs of customers on a timely basis. Thorough market research needs to carry out, and they should monitor their competitors on a regular basis. As the main customers of the company are soccer mommies, strategic managers at the company need to provide a good shopping experience to them by analysing their convenience and budget. Strategic managers need to study living preference and locations of their target customers and should make their strategic management decisions accordingly. In order to understand or keep track the changing trends, strategic managers at Kohl can conduct thorough market study regularly.
2. Strategic decision managers, deployed at headquarters of a company or local store of a company have their own responsibilities to carry out. If I were a strategic decision maker at the headquarters of Kohl, I would collect the information on the target audience, likes and dislikes of those customers, new marketing trends, competitors’ position in the market, future needs of the company, social, political, economic and political factors with attention to global aspects, industry history and so on. In addition, I would encourage technological innovation at the company and also take responsibility to conduct environmental scanning, strategy formulation, strategy implementation, and evaluation and control.
If I were Kohl’s local store manager, I would give attention to inventory management, merchandising and marketing execution. Rather than this, I would take care of the employees and make sure that they are maintaining a healthy relationship with customers. In addition, after analyzing customers for a while, I would introduce new products in my store which are appealing to customers. I would also conduct situation analysis, which involves looking over the company’s external and internal environments and the context in which the company fits in those environments.
3. The company’s strategic decision makers have done a good job in accessing the environment. Kohl’s strategic approach has been built around convenience and price. After accessing and scanning external environment, Kohl selected locations of their stores mainly in the heart of the soccer mom country. As they realized that their main customers are soccer moms, these locations helped the company to attract more target customers to their stores. Moreover, decision of company to add a home furnishing collection called Casa Cristina and its own food network brand of dinnerware and cooking tools helped to attract their target audience. The company increased their revenue, because of their careful scanning and analyzing of external environment.
4. Kohl’s strategic decision to move from noisy malls to selective locations made the company to have a break towards success. Selective locations near residential areas made soccer moms to reach the shop easily and also made their shopping experience good. Kohl understood that consumers are disillusioned with the overall shopping experience at malls and other retail outlets. Strategic managers at kohl made use of the opportunity effectively. This paved a way for them to success. Although we can say that kohl did well in attaining a competitive advantage, it is facing threats from its competitors. The main threat is that, its major competitors such as J.C Penny and Sears to Macy’s have copied their approach. Even some retailers have shifted from trendy teenage fashions to clothes that appeal to moms. J.C. Penny copied all the approaches of Kohl. J.C. Penny and even made their stores easier to navigate and enhanced their selection of casual brands. Hence, although Kohl seems to be on a winning streak, competitor actions and other external trends keep strategic decision makers on their toes for a while.
Case 4: Higher and Higher
1. Haier Group has started its operation as just a refrigerator company. Now, the company has reached good heights, mainly because of the aspiring leadership of its CEO Zhang Ruimin. First thing he did after he took the charge as the CEO of the company was to take a hammer and smash 76 refrigerators because of their poor quality. From then onwards the company strived hard to maintain the quality of their product. Number of resources has increased from 800 to 50, 000 and all are working well in 30 factories worldwide to manufacture and assemble products worldwide. One of the important factors that made the company distinctive from other companies is its incredible overseas growth. Even though they are facing struggles to make their position strong in the overseas market, introduction of eco-friendly products made them to stand unique from other competitors.
2. Perception of people as Chinese brands are low-end and low-quality is one of the main challenges or weakness the company faces. This mindset of people needs to be changed in order to market the company’s product successfully and effectively in the overseas market. In addition to this negative, another main weakness of the company is the slim profit margins it is getting from home country due to increasing foreign competition. Talking about strengths, the company is a government registered company and might be getting great support from the government. Moreover, the company’s innovative products line also capable them to attain a competitive advantage in the market. Products like frog-shaped television console, compact refrigerators, wine coolers, and office refrigerators helped them to stand unique from other popular brands.
5. The CEO Zhang Ruimin can use SWOT analysis, value chain analysis, competitive strength assessment, internal audit, internal environment analysis process or capabilities assessment profile to assess Haier Group’s strengths and weaknesses. These kinds of internal analysis approach help him to identify and analyze the company’s characteristics like resources, capabilities and core competencies. Understanding these characteristics enables him to formulate a good strategic management system.
6. One of the main goals of Zhang is to make his company a strong global competitor comparable to companies like General Electric in the United States, Mercedes-Benz in Germany and Toyota in Japan. He also wants to make his company a powerful global brand. The company can utilize its resources and capabilities to achieve the goal of the CEO. In order be a powerful global brand, the company needs to manufacture products which appeal to the target customers. The company needs to utilize effectively its employees to conduct thorough market research to understand the changing behaviors of the customers. After understanding the likes and dislikes of customers, the company needs to modify its existing product or manufacture new products to attract customers. As a result, in this way, credibility of the company can be enhanced and can increase customers’ number. Obviously, when the number of customer increases, the company will transform as a powerful global brand.