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SWOT Analysis Examples for Amazon with Detailed Templates

Updated: Jan 3



SWOT Analysis for Amazon Example.  Learn how Amazon evaluated the online grocery industry, with Wal Mart as a key competitor.

A SWOT analysis is the most well-known strategic framework for mapping your business against the external environment. It's an acronym that lays out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in an organized, interconnected way to provide insight into your current competitive position and where to focus future business efforts.


Have you noticed how most SWOT Analyses are too high level, not brutally honest like they should be, and lack actionable insight? We’ll cover the key issues that make a standard SWOT ineffective, and show you a new approach: a story format technique that addresses these limitations. We'll go in-depth with a SWOT analysis example of Amazon, including its position vs. Wal Mart in a comprehensive video.



When Should You Conduct a SWOT Analysis?

A SWOT is conducted in the first stage of the situation analysis, but after a 5Cs and PESTEL Analysis is conducted.

A SWOT analysis is a critical component of the strategic planning process. In the first stage of a situation analysis, you ask "what's happening?" in your business, both internally and externally. Once you've gathered data in your situation analysis using multiple sources and frameworks, distill the critical factors into a SWOT analysis.


Similar to the GOST framework, a SWOT analysis can be done at the corporate, business unit, brand, and product level. You can even use the framework to diagnose what's happening within a specific situation, like a powerful and singular new trend hitting the market. For career development, a SWOT can be a useful personal tool for you to conduct on yourself and your team. Make the tool your own by applying it to your unique needs.


How long does a SWOT take to complete? The quickest way is to sit down for an hour and fill it out yourself, using your mind and any current resources you have. Once you get this raw draft, you can see where you need to explore further to flesh out a polished version. A SWOT can take anywhere from a few minutes to several months to complete depending on how much data you need. If your threats and opportunities are clear and you know what you need to do right away, then your SWOT can be completed much sooner. Remember, it's about actionable impact, not scouring the earth for every little detail or data point.


What Are The Main Limitations of the SWOT Analysis?

A SWOT Analysis has several limitations, the chief of which is being too internally focused.  Give extra attention to the external environment to develop a SWOT that drives results.
What are the limitations of SWOT Analysis?

You can develop a superior SWOT analysis by identifying the tool's limitations and overcoming them. Standard SWOT analyses end up being internally focused, hold minimal insights/data due to significant space constraints, and often get done in a bubble without cross functional input.


They also end up being a glitzy parade of how strong your company is, with middle managers being timid of listing the true weaknesses of the business. Often, you'll find a lack of external opportunities and threats, because this requires deeper analysis. Recognize these limitations and take steps to minimize them.


Three Steps to A Successful SWOT Analysis

1) Search for the Truth

  • Remove all bias about your company and the industry you operate in, casting a wide initial net so you don't miss anything

  • Conduct primary and secondary research to establish a new understanding of your external environment

  • Start by asking big questions like "what business am I in?", "How have my customers changed?", "Which competitor's are winning and why?"

  • Ensure you have data in the form of charts and graphs and measurable business goals in order to build an evidence based narrative

  • A 5Cs analysis is a great way to gather the data you need to inform your SWOT: Learn about 5Cs here >>

2) Get Perspective From Everywhere

  • Make friends with plenty of colleagues to gain a cross functional view of your business

  • How does the way your finance team differ from the way your operations team views your business, both internally an externally?

  • Talk to customers and other external folks like suppliers and consultants who see things you may not

  • How do the diverse perspectives you've gathered offer new insight into your business challenges?

3). Make it Actionable

  • Making it actionable means making it focused - you must master the art and science of narrowing your strategic scope so you focus on what matters most and give details on what you can do about it

  • Use those specific details, such as competitive threats to your customer base and growth goals, and create linkages with pre-existing corporate strategies for smoother alignment

  • Go from data driven observation to business implications, from there outlining how you'll take steps to address the implications

  • By turning threats into opportunities, and weaknesses into strengths, you can highlight strategic thinking in your overall approach

  • You can make your SWOT actionable by using this slide as a shortcut: Take the challenges and opportunities you found in your analysis, note the key resources you'll need to support it, and outline your strategic considerations to drive the business. This slide is in the download link at the beginning of this article.

Make Your SWOT analysis actionable by using this challenges and opportunities slide as a shortcut.  It's an easy way to address your SWOT finding with executable strategies and next steps.
Make Your SWOT Actionable

SWOT Example of Amazon Entering the Online Grocery Business

This is an easy and powerful SWOT template you can fill out quickly.  Pay extra attention to how you can turn weakness and threats into strengths and opportunities.

Strengths

Strengths are what we believe our business has a dominant position in vs. the competition. They can be anything from brand reputation, customer loyalty measures, technology advantages, speed to market, agility; it's anything you believe you have relative competitive advantage in.


An important note to keep in mind: depending on what you're analyzing with your SWOT, your perceived strengths can actually be a weakness. For instance, Amazon usually has supply chain superiority vs. other organizations. However, going head to head with Walmart in online grocery, Walmart already has physical locations acting as "free" warehouses for all the food it delivers. Amazon can no longer see its durable goods supply chain as a strength in this arena, which is why it needs to consider the acquisition of Whole Foods to adequately compete.


Amazon's Strengths
  • The Amazon Brand is synonymous with value

  • Durable goods supply chain

  • Personalization

  • Current Prime subscriber base of 150MM members in the US alone

Weaknesses

Weaknesses exist where you lack core competence, but that's not necessarily a negative position. We choose to be weak in certain areas so we can be stronger in others. If a weakness inhibits your ability to compete effectively, that's when you need to note it in this section. If your company is sensitive about using the word weakness, use the word "inhibitors" instead.


Amazon's Weaknesses
  • The Amazon brand is not synonymous with high quality food

  • Distribution network is optimized for durable goods not perishables like food

  • The Amazon Fresh platform is margin prohibitive except in large markets like L.A.


Opportunities

Opportunities come in many flavors. The biggest opportunities arise when many different external factors converge together to offer significant growth for your business. If there's a large and underserved customer segment with an unmet need your company is uniquely positioned to provide, then the stars have aligned.

Taking advantage of opportunities often means needing to innovate. Take a look at this article on the SCAMPER framework to help you generate ideas fast >>


Amazon's Opportunity
  • Online grocery is a $100Bn sector growing at a +15% CAGR over 5 years

  • Acquiring a current grocery chain, such as Whole Foods, would provide distribution and brand image gains for quality


Threats

Threats are the current and future possibilities that pose an existential challenge to the existence of your business. It's the stuff that keeps you and your CEO up at night. A PESTEL is a great way to lay out the political, economic, societal, technological, environmental, and legal forces that might threaten you. Porter's Five Forces is another staple strategic framework you can use to identify threats.


Amazon's Threats
  • Walmart has entered online grocery with “InHome” delivery, an attractive pricing plan, and is gaining share rapidly

  • Amazon can only win in grocery deliver with a large scale effort, seeking to achieve online delivery market share of 30% by year two in order to be competitive vs. WMT and others


One simple but advanced tip to impress your audience with your SWOT


The real magic behind using a SWOT analysis is discovering ways to turn weaknesses into strengths, and threats into opportunities. When you're able to highlight a significant threat that everyone recognizes is a big deal to your future, and lay out ways you'll transform this threat into an opportunity by reallocating resources to make it a growth driver, you know you've done your job.



A New SWOT Approach: Story Format

Example analysis of Amazon vs. Wal Mart in Strategy Kiln's proprietary story format for SWOT.

If you're willing to invest the extra time, use the SWOT story format to examine each section of your SWOT analysis with a dedicated slide. You could have anywhere from just a few slides to over 20; it all depends on your business needs, and how you want to construct your story. The slide above shows this clearly, you get plenty of dedicated space to allow for clean data visuals and key stats, accompanied by a grey box at the bottom expressing the implications. If you want to go deeper, check out the video below.





Conclusion

Your SWOT Analysis doesn’t have to be amateur. Take the templates we provided using Amazon as an example and craft a professional SWOT right away. Be aware and reduce the limitations of the tool. Grab a white board and map things out with cross functional partners. Check in with them regularly to ensure alignment. Flex your strategic thinking by demonstrating how you minimize threats by transforming them into opportunities. Tailor your approach for your business, hone in on external factors, and consider the new “story format” approach for your next SWOT.


Have you had any success leveraging a SWOT analysis to drive your business?

Will the new story format help you? Let us know, and remember to get the slides here .


About this Author:


Adam Fischer is a marketer with over ten years of experience in brand management and digital marketing. He’s challenged assumptions and taken bold moves to drive growth in roles at small businesses like Dogeared Jewelry and multi-billion-dollar companies like Nature Made Vitamins and CVS Health. His B.S. in philosophy from Northeastern University helps him ask questions that get to the heart of business issues. His M.B.A. in marketing from the Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU helps him thinking strategically about driving brands and growth.
















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