The proposed research is to find out the strategies employed by the supermarket giants who are currently ruling the customers in the United Kingdom and to make a comparative study so as to explore the ideas taken by the organizations to withstand the crisis and other problems in the current competitive market.
The research is to mean to have a broad outlook into the market process and the supermarket withstanding techniques opted by the management. The research is hence conducted on four host supermarkets which are ASDA, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer which can be considered as the leaders in the current market.
There are several questions to be answered as the research ends and the answers to the following will show positive signs of organizational success secrets to be revealed. The research questions which are to be the objectives of the research are given below:
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What are the organizational goals that are to be along with their organizational strategy?
What are the differences in the organizational strategies employed to improve the performance in the market regardless of the competitors work?
How do the companies stay connected with the customer loyalty and customer satisfaction in return to the program?
How did the giant supermarkets withstand the market issues affecting their strategy?
Researches on supermarket strategies and their competitive performances and their effects in the United kingdom have been conducted by several scholars such as Harvey (2000), Blakely (2004), Rowley (2005a), Hawkes (2002), Mintel (2003), Finch (2001), etc. their comments on the topic are somehow described shortly and a detailed description will be provided in the research progress.
Harvey (2000) says that the supermarket chain development in the United Kingdom which is going on in the recent years is showing an effect of a distinctive system in the country's retail market. This also leads to showing a result or important consequences while assessing the type of competition going on in the market.
Harvey (2000) was the person who first showed the evidence of changes in the supply chain nature in the UK's supermarket industry. Huge developments and investments have been followed in a complete new system of distribution, heavily reconfigured wholesale markets which are controlled by giant multiples. The current situation in the supermarket industry had rapidly changed by even having a minimum of 20 regional distribution centres regardless whether it is contracted or in house which is run by Hi-Tech IT systems and advanced cross-docking transport communications.
Tesco was just like a food retailer of a typical style previously where they just focused on the sections such as place and products which are the tangibles and instead ignoring the sections like service and customer care which are the intangibles (Blakely, 2004). This traditional business style affected the entire company making them to think that this style will not work anymore and need a change in the method as the current one made the company to lessen their profits and decrease the customer satisfaction. The company's shift in the focus to the intangibles and the customer care was a great effort where they were not being considered in the supermarket industry during the situation (Blakely, 2002). Tesco came to implement new strategies were they introduced loyalty card called as club card. This reward program offered by the company is their improvement to their entire organizational development and they also need to offer more customer loyalty programs in order to strengthen their strategy improvement programs (Rowley, 2005a).
The CRM improvement programs introduced by Sainsbury have made them to explore the possibilities by the program for the food retailers in terms of competition and technology. The technology improved due to this made the company to make improvements in the advertising and promotions offered to the customers where they try to increase the customer satisfaction towards the organization. The technology improvement also enabled the company to be along with the induced strategy and withstand the competitors in the market Hawkes (2002).
According to Harvey (2000) the significant characteristics in the supermarket industry in the United Kingdom shows that the customer loyalty and convenience is to be improved as a part of the organizational strategy rather than giving importance to the discount programs offered to the customers. Wal-Mart constantly had problems during their entrance to the UK due to their pricing strategy and so the company made decisions to make a partnership with ASDA in order to gain strength in the country. Wal-Mart learned the marketing and strategic approach prevailing in the UK through ASDA. An acquisition deal should include an important factor called learning which was an important factor that wall mart came to know from ASDA as their source of direction Hawkes (2002).
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In order to attain customer satisfaction for quality products, the major supermarkets are now in a term of keeping just the needed suppliers and necessary product areas in order to keep track the responsibility on quality control, storage and distribution and procurement Ferne and Dedman (2002). The increased quality control and the response to customer demands lead ASDA to their success. The company's strategy aims to gain customers through competitor rivals and also to retain the existing ones so as to increase their performance staying along with their strategy Ferne and Dedman (2002).
The Marks & Spencer products are always considered to be in the premium category list and so the market incidents are always at the door front of the company as it can be easily affected due to the classification in the customer demands offered by the company. The strategy of the company should be revaluated in a state like the brand value credentials should be modified in order to have a good position in the margin and the increase in the promotional stance (Rowley, 2005, p.198).
The global market was a source where Tesco learned the way to react in the situation of failures. Tesco's failure was due to their focus on just the offline customers. Tesco.com was an invention of such a situation and that leaded to the company's today with over 2318 stores globally and being the largest food retailer in the United Kingdom (Data monitor, 2004). The company also operates in the rest of the Europe and Asia as well in the way being a non-food store also (Data monitor, 2004). Tesco's aim is to create value for their customers which should be their core purpose and the company's strategy. Both online and offline customers should be equally served in order for them to be lifetime loyal (Tesco.com, 2005b). The company website operates foe serving the customers within the United Kingdom and which serves for almost and over 80% of the company's profit and sales (Tesco.com, 2005b).
According to Mintel (2003), the UK "has arguably the most developed online grocery retail market in the world", with more than 1.3 million people shopping for groceries online (Daily Record, 2004). This have a great impact on the business strategies of several giant supermarkets as the online sections are being used by the customers more than the offline customers (Finch, 2001).
The literatures including the comments provided above shows the important concepts of various scholars affecting the strategy of the organization, their central issues, and their relevant find outs.
The proposed report on the strategies opted by giant supermarkets in the UK is a mix of exploratory and explanatory methods. Several literatures have been published on the topic and so the collected data will be fine to correlate with the explanatory method.
The concept of methodological triangulation which was introduced by Denzin (1978) in order to overcome the combative and susceptible manner which could be evolved due to the single data collection method. According to Tashakkori and Teddlie (1998) the term "triangulation" stands for a nautical method in which two sources are taken in order to calculate the distance between them and an unknown third object.
The method used will be able to compare the strategies of different retail supermarkets, say Tesco, Sainsbury's, ASDA, Wall mart and Marks & Spencer. The data received on a particular company will be helpful to bias the opportunities and threats that they face over their competitors as other companies taken for this research.
5. RESOURCE REQUIREMENT
The review of literature and related observations will be obtained from the libraries in order to obtain the published copies and company websites are surfed in order to receive data as the electronic copies.
The research will be based on the data gathered on the target companies from sources like journals and library books. Several interviews have been scheduled with the company officials where the officials are to be seen by fixing appointments. Direct interviews have been scheduled for Tesco, Sainsbury's and ASDA so that the company information and their approach to the current market considering their organizational strategy can be found out with this approach. E-mail conversations have been scheduled with Marks & Spencer London Head Office in without the direct interview due to the unavailability of the appointment for this research programs. E-mail conversation was selected instead due to the time saving factor that it could make.
6. DATA COLLECTION METHODS
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As part of the primary data collection method, direct interviews are scheduled for the research data collection and these interview will give a broader prospective of the organizational reaction and situation towards their strategic approach. Each interview conversations will last for about half an hour which includes questions on the strategy.
Questionnaires have been prepared for the interviews and separate questionnaires are also prepared for the other staff members if an option for the participation will be given by the company official. This is conducted in order to receive the employee mindset about the organizational goals and strategy. These methods are used for the data gathering as the data collected will be true of nature as it comes directly from the officials and also the time saving factor is also considered for this method selection. Previous research literatures will also lead the way to the interview points and the preparation of questionnaires.
The "participant as observer" method which is developed by Gill and Johnson (1997) is followed where the process relates that the facts are to be explained as just a fieldwork relationship.
Apart from these, secondary data collection method is also taken by collecting data from library books, internet blogs, journals, magazines and publications on the topic.
7. DATA ANALYSIS
The proposed research will have a combination of quantitative and qualitative data analysis approach. The data gathered through the interview process and the observations will be finally analysed with the approach of the grounded theory of axial coding, open coding and selective coding (Strauss and Corbin, 1998) due to the structures and systematic process of the theory. Data analysis can be done in a more personalized way is an advantage of this approach (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2003).
Graphs and charts for the market impact on the organizations and their withstanding rate will be created in Microsoft word PowerPoint slides where the software will be used. This is used in order to show the clear cut idea of the explanation of the findings where pictures and diagrams will help to show understand quickly than the written matter.
8. RESEARCH COMPETENCE AND ENHANCEMENTS
The quantitative and qualitative analysis used in this research is due to the less timeframe required to achieve the target and the easiness of reaching the target. My experience in using the same techniques in my previous research projects shows a confidence in me to accomplish the proposed research with the said methodology and data collection methods.
The result of the research will show the successful application of the research techniques and their practical implementation over the data collected through these methods which also proves my skills in conducting a successful research with at least some of the complicated research techniques and data collection methods.
As part of data gathering methods, direct interviews with the company officials are scheduled. E-mail conversations with the Marks & Spencer official are scheduled due to the appointment unavailability, Questionnaires for use at the time of interviews have been prepared and Questionnaires for the use of staff if allowed by the officials are also prepared.
The data collected will be analysed with the grounded theory approach and graphs and charts will be prepared with the help of Microsoft word PowerPoint in the form of slides.
ASDA, Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's are the host organizations taken for the research to find out the organizational strategies and their differences.
The timescale for the following research starting from the topic selection throughout the process till the submission of the project report is given below:
ANALYSIS ON THE TOPIC
COLLECTION OF INFORMATION
PREPARATION OF PROPOSAL
SUBMISSION OF PROPOSAL
UPDATION OF LITERATURE
SUBMISSION OF PROJECT
11. RESEARCH IMPACTS
No impacts due to the techniques used in this research is found out as the data collected personally are only from the company officials who are supposed to provide only with the organization facts.
The exploratory method could find out the strategy which could be the internal data for several organizations and which could create an issue. This will be dealt with an answer that the research is to explore the depths and find the facts.
The data provided by the companies about the competitors can only be the only chance of negative impact on the research. The political consequences will also be based on the above said fact if something is supposed to be questioned.
The data collected from the officials are to be confidential and will not be provided to the requests from outside the research team members. Also the conclusions found out for this research will also be dealt with third party requests.