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Williams-Sonoma Case Study Case Study


Large business organizations face numerous challenges in the contemporary world. Two main challenges affect the growth process and making of profits in a business, which include globalization and competition. In the wake of globalization, companies are seeking to extend their operations to different regions across the world.

Therefore, globalization has its challenges to the business whereby expansion to new locations increases the management risk; on the other hand, it poses competition challenges to local business organizations. On the other side, even without globalization, competition from rival companies has been a challenge to most businesses as they strive to claim a share of the existent market.

Williams-Sonoma’s growth process has been challenged by globalization, especially through Internet marketing and by other foreign businesses in the country, which have posed competitive challenges to the business. However, it has high chances of overcoming the challenges, as highlighted in this paper.

If the Williams-Sonoma continues with its present strategies and objectives, where will it be in five years

Williams-Sonoma Corporation has been experiencing steady growth process since its inception in 1953. Notably, the highest growth of the corporation can be defined in terms of product development and market coverage across the United States. The corporation’s leadership remained under Charles E. Williams, the founder and the corporation’s director, until 2003.

The director was focused on high growth rate of the company coupled with the attainment of competitive advantage over its competitors through product pricing and development. He was a growth-focused leader who helped the corporation to attain large market coverage in the country as well as introducing various products that target different customer genres. Williams’ successors have also played a major role in the attainment of the corporation’s competitive advantage in the contemporary competitive world of business.

The company’s strengths are on products and market strategies, which form the basic requirements of competitive strengths of a business. The company has adopted online marketing and selling as a modernized competitive strategy. The world is experiencing a new wave of globalization and in five years’ time, the corporation will have increased its market coverage to global markets given that it is a growth-focused entity (Michman, 2006).

This goal is achievable for a large corporation like Williams –Sonoma because it has the capital required when globalizing a company. In addition, the company would rely heavily on online shopping and avoid increasing its physical market coverage in various parts of the world, as that new strategy would facilitate the coverage of its local and international markets at the same time.

Hence, in five years’ time, the continued growth trend would usher the company into international markets and increase product varieties, which would play a crucial role of increasing competitive advantage in the global market.

If you were the CEO of Williams- Sonoma, what strategies would you recommend, and why?

If I were the CEO of Williams-Sonoma, I would recommend various strategies for the company to increase its competitive advantage. Firstly, I would focus on globalization as the most important strategy for the company. Williams-Sonoma is a well-established corporation across the United States due to its long existence and reputable growth since its inception. Globalization would increase market coverage into foreign markets that the company has never exploited before.

In addition, globalization would play a crucial role in the products’ development, as the corporation strives to acquire competitive advantage over foreign competitors in the international market phenomenon. In addition, globalization would also enable the corporation to increase varieties of products, which are customized to meet customers’ needs in both local and foreign markets, and hence enhance competitive advantage over the other competitors in the market.

Secondly, as the corporation’s CEO, I would advise the company to rely mostly on direct-to-customer operations market segment. In the contemporary world of business, companies have adopted strategies that aim at enhancing business-to-customer relations and eliminating intermediaries due to stiff competition in the market. Intermediaries are of little importance to manufacturers in acquiring competitive advantage, as they add no value to the products.

Hence, the strategy that would enhance business-to-customer relations would be the one that eliminates intermediaries in order for the business to acquire direct responses from customers. However, online marketing helps in enhancing business-to-customer relations as customers get a platform to express their feelings on the ability of business products to satisfy them. Therefore, the company should rely more on marketing strategies that promote direct customer contacts (Wheelen & Hunger, 2009).

Describe the competitive strategies used by each of Williams-Sonoma’s competitors. Which of these strategies are the more effective?

Williams-Sonoma is the oldest corporation in the home industry and it had an advantage at inception for there were no established competitors. However, with time, other players ventured into the industry. New entrants normally have the advantage of offering substitutes at lower prices than the existing products, and thus they pose a threat to the success of established corporations like Williams-Sonoma.

The oldest competitor for Williams-Sonoma is Crate-Barrel that opened its first store in 1962. This privately owned organization posed stiff competition through its branding and virtuoso designing on its stores. New entrants have an advantage of attracting new customers most of whom want to taste the substitute of what they are already used to in their consumption styles. Hence, Crate & Barrel used the product and store branding as a competitive strategy in entering into the market (Paley, 2007).

In addition, product pricing is another strategy that posed a major threat to the survival of Williams-Sonoma. Crate &Barrel used product-pricing strategy as a competitive advantage strategy for it offered high quality substitute and affordable products. In addition, online marketing has helped other competitors to acquire higher competitive advantage over Williams-Sonoma.

Crate & Barrel was the first company to use website and catalog marketing strategy in the industry, and this move helped the company to earn a great deal of competitive advantage over close competitors. In addition, some competitors have already globalized their coverage, but the most notable one is the Pier 1 Imports, which opened its first store in Canada in 2003 and it has since increased its coverage in Europe.

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?

The Internet is nowadays the most effective distribution channel for business products across the world. Williams-Sonoma has varieties of products all of which have individual website for marketing and distribution to various stores across the United States.

However, Williams-Sonoma has not embraced modernized business strategies that would enable it to increase market coverage as well as competitive advantage over other competitors. The Internet is very effective for online shopping to customers, as it would allow clients to do online shopping while at the same time increasing the company’s stores in order to reach customers with ease.

Most successful businesses in the contemporary globalized world have adopted online marketing as a virtue globalized strategy like car manufacturers that allow customers to buy products online and the manufacturer does the shipping for the customer.

Hence, Williams-Sonoma should use the same strategy in order to increase market coverage and sales in the global markets by allowing online shopping to global customers, while it does shipping to the overseas customers. In addition, the corporation should use the Internet to enhance customer relations by eliminating distributors, who in most cases do not present the real image of the manufacturer or to the customers.

Additionally, in most cases, distributors or intermediaries do not add any value to a product, as they only facilitate the transfer of a product from the producer to the consumer and thus by eliminating them, a company can streamline its services. In addition, distributors or intermediaries add no value to a product and thus their elimination will not have significant effect.


Williams-Sonoma is a competitive business organization and its early monopolistic nature in the market enabled it to acquire good reputation in the home product industry, and thus its products are well trusted by the Americans. The organization faces several challenges in its quest to claim a meaningful market share in the competitive world of business. However, the most crippling challenge is globalization where well-established international companies are venturing into different markets across the world.

Large companies have the advantage of enough resources to gain a competitive advantage over local enterprises, which in most cases struggle with meager resources for expansion.

The organization has a steady growth process despite stiff competition from competitors, but it still stands higher chances of increasing its competitiveness if the managers adopt the globalization and Internet marketing strategies. In addition, the good reputation of the business products to customers does not guarantee a success, and thus managers should implement the aforementioned strategies in order to achieve the desired success.


Michman, R. (2006).The affluent consumer: marketing and selling the luxury lifestyle. Washington, D.C: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Paley, N. (2007). Mastering the rules of competitive strategy: a resource guide for manager. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Wheelen, T., & Hunger. J. (2009). Concepts in strategic management and business policy: achieving sustainability. New York, NY: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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