Ashley’s Home Supply IT Strategic Plan

Overview of Ashley’s Home Supply Company

Ashley’s Home Supply Company was founded more than two decades ago. The company has its headquarters in El Dorado, Arkansas. The company has been active in the design and production of brick and mortar products that are distributed primarily through the company-owned and independent retailers across the United States of America besides an active online ordering platform. The company sells its products both in the state’s market and across the world.

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Ashley’s Home Supply Company operates in the construction industry. The vision of the business is to be a leading reliable online platform of ordering brick and mortar products and direct delivery at the most affordable price. The business’s mission is to grow the online business platform to cover specific demands for the brick and mortar products among customers by rolling out an easy-to-access, use, and personalized website. The business intends to increase its visibility through digital marketing and website optimization.

The current situation in terms of technology and security

To increase credibility and maintain professionalism, the current online channels for Ashley’s Home Supply Company encompass processes and features that flawlessly facilitate healthy and lifetime relationships between a business and its clients, as seen in the company’s website platform. However, the company has been facing serious security concerns as expressed by customers in terms of the privacy of personal information about customers.

Specifically, the main concern has been the company’s ability and capacity to maintain confidentiality and offer a safe online platform for customers since customers can use the same platform to make payments. Moreover, the company’s customer relationship management strategy has not been successful. There are numerous complaints by some customers who claim that sometimes it takes up to six hours before a simple order is processed. Also, customers have raised several complaints on the responsiveness of the customer relationship management staff, who sometimes take up to three days to respond to a simple query. These challenges are threatening the survival and sustainability of the company’s online business platform.

Five information technology personnel to be in place

The marketing manager

To provide supervision duty by picking the exact modification that should be adopted as part of the strategic plan.

Information technology consultant

Coordinate with the marketing manager in designing the proposed strategic plan by providing technical support.

Customer relationship manager

Be the link between the marketing manager and the consultant as the center of the implementation of the proposed plan.

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Website analytic personnel

Track the performance of the strategic plan during and after implementation in terms of customer response.

System administrator

Provides technical support to the proposed system daily to boost security concerns.

SWOT analysis for the business venture

Strengths

Strategic distribution system

The online order placement and delivery aspect of the business has given the company a competitive advantage of reliability since the online platform is a well-developed network for effective customer service (Aldan, 2008). This means that the business has benefited from being a reliable venture that does what it promises the customers.

Strong brand name

Since the website is easy to use and fairly visible, customers do not have difficulty in making orders and following up on the other aspects of product delivery. This means that the online business platform is easy to sell since it is already associated with the product the company specializes in. The name Ashley’s Home Supply reflects the general construction culture, way of life, and social orientation in line with the business goal of promoting the online platform as easy and convenient to clients.

Provision of a variety of services

The business is positioned to gain from different customer segments since the online platform has been positioned to serve the interests of all customers through the provision of stratified services that matches the demands of these clients. This means that the business will gain from the self-competition and may even grow further as the targeted clients embrace the online product ordering line.

Weaknesses

Breakages during delivery

Since the business is both online and offline, there may be breakages during the delivery of ordered products. The breakages may increase the cost of doing the business and, if frequent, may motivate the customers to form a negative opinion about the business. This might affect the sustainability of the business, especially when the breakages and other damages are substantial.

Delay in delivery

Since the delivery of the brick-and-mortar products ordered by customers involves movement from a store to the customers’ location, there might be delays, especially when customers made urgent delivery requests during peak hours. Frequent delays may lead to loss of business.

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Single market focus

The emphases on the brick and mortar products leave the firm susceptible to several possible large-scale economic downturns. Also, the single market focus reduces the firm’s competitive edge. Moreover, the growth and expansion of similar superfluous services offer alternative services to the targeted clientele. The business has not yet fully developed to allow speedy delivery of the product to the consumers.

Difficulty in convincing the customers

Many targeted customers have had a bad experience with online ordering of services since there are many scammers and false advertisers who do not adhere to the ethical code of remaining faithful in representing the product as it is reality. Even though the ordering website is based on sincere business, it may take a long time to convince the suspicious customers that the business is different. The suspicion because the business is based online may negatively affect expansion and penetration strategy for the online-based business.

Limited access to customers

The entire business platform depends on the ability of a potential customer to access the internet. This means that many potential customers who do not have access to the internet are being locked out. Currently, only 35% to 75% of the potential customers have access to the internet or are literate in its use. Locking out nearly a quarter of the population because the business is based online may affect future expansion strategies since it is limited within a section of the population who has access to the internet (Checkland, 2007). As a result, the business expansion will not be as fast as that of a potential traditional or hybrid business offering the same services. This means that the business is likely to lose to such competitors.

Opportunities

Integrated technology as an expansion tool

Since the business is based offline and online, there is unlimited opportunity for the creation of a mobile app that can be used to access the website from mobile handsets since the majority of the targeted clients have Smartphones. Besides, the business might benefit from integrating technology further in tracking the delivery schedule through pop-up messages to ensure that customers can follow up on their order’s progress through the mobile phone. Also, the business might create an SMS service to order the products for customers who cannot access the website (Turban, Volonino, & Wood, 2012). Therefore, the business has an opportunity for expansion beyond the current target market.

Growing current target market

The most probable opportunity is the vibrant growth in the targeted market segments. Also, developments in economic conditions and infrastructure that support the growth and development of businesses as well as growth in the construction industry present new opportunities for the business (Tharp, 2009). The business is in a position to capitalize on this growth to replace further the traditional ways of reaching out to potential clients.

Attractive online modeling to increase product visibility

The business can increase the visibility of current services it offers through search engine optimization to ensure that the website is very easy to access. The search engine optimization is strategic in increasing the traffic of customers who visit this website. When search engine optimization is integrated as part of the marketing communication strategy, the visibility of the business’s services will increase beyond the targeted market (Turban, Volonino, & Wood, 2012).

Increased customer loyalty through a quality brand

The business has the potential of maintaining a good reputation among its clients since the entire venture is based on the reliability, affordability, and usability of the website to order and receive the brick and mortar products. Through the provision of high-quality services, the business may track its clients’ reputation through their feedback to make adjustments to guarantee sustainable customer satisfaction levels.

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Threats

Competitors

It is easy for new competitors to enter this market with similar services and brands. The new entrants pose a potential threat to Ashley’s Home Supply product ordering website. For instance, the competitors may ape the business idea or roll out a better strategy for reaching customers to the disadvantage of the venture (Reynolds, 2009). Another threat is losing staff as some competitors might try to attract them by offering higher salaries and allowance.

Economic swings in the construction industry

The probable economic slump, which has a greater effect on business conditions and consumer confidence, presents a greater threat to business operations. These economic swings might affect the purchasing power among the targeted clients, reducing the demand for the services that the website offers.

Changed customer preference

The entire business platform operates on customer preference since the online business platform is very sensitive due to security, accessibility, and reliability concerns. Therefore, any negative change of preference among the customers would translate into a loss of business, especially now that business has a virtual perspective attached to it (Jiawei, 2011).

Five major goals for the information technology strategic plan

Attract

The main goal of this digital strategic plan is to attract the customers’ market through Ashley’s Home Supply website and fan pages to increase customer traffic for brick-and-mortar products. The goal aims at packaging the company as a favorite of customers who want to ensure that they can place online orders for the products and receive them in the shortest time possible (Turban, Volonino, & Wood, 2012). The use of social media to attract this market segment is achievable since the target market frequents social media as a site for interaction and purchase of different products.

Customer retention and loyalty building

Properly modified website and fan pages will reassure the customers on the reliability of Ashley’s Home Supply ordering website, different mobile applications, and pop-up messages for every processed order. Through massive recruitment of online fans on Twitter and Facebook pages, the company will benefit from increased traffic of online compliments and record high rates of customer loyalty as most customers are influenced by reactions from other clients (Anderson & Dougall, 2010). Customer retention strategy is meant to position the company as a market leader in customer satisfaction tracking and response.

Sustainable customer relationship management

Customer relationship management is the first step towards customer relationships and to expand the distribution channels that attract near markets. Therefore, the proposed strategy will revolve around a comprehensive review of ‘push and pull’ factors which determine the functionality of the company’s ordering website to offer an alternative strong marketing tool in the quest for quality, reliability, and trust among clients (Turban, Volonino, & Wood, 2012).

Sustainable business growth and expansion

The proposed strategic plan is aimed at improving the company’s online visibility, thus, increased sales. Increased sales translate into more revenues, which the company can invest to foster further expansion beyond its current market catchment.

Improve in the current marketing messages to boost the current brand image

Generally, the catchier an advertisement is the high chances of uptake. On the other hand, less catchy advertisements may not work well with consumer perception of such a brand. Consumer perception is the general evaluation that consumers engage in before deciding to purchase a particular product or service (Turban, Volonino, & Wood, 2012). Therefore, the proposed strategic plan intends to improve on the company brand image to ensure that targeted customers accept the company is the best in the market.

Three positive organizational impacts of implementing the strategic plan

Ability to track and monitor real-time business performance

It is necessary to determine the online behavior of the target market before selecting the best channel for internet marketing to minimize the issue of changed consumer preference. Essentially, the success of brand and product management depends on the proper alignment of a functional idea into the creation of flexible, involuntary, and quantifiable measurement of perception among the target audience (Turban, Volonino, & Wood, 2012). Thus, the company will be able to track the engagement ratios on its twitter fan page and classify different contents according to the level of engagement recorded before and after implementing the plan.

Managing and facilitating time-bound growth

The company may use the online traffic results to draw a growth calendar for the business management strategies to fast track the initial objectives against the realities of market swings since the strategic plan allows for consistency in micro-managing all aspects of customer-business interaction.

Balancing business growth and regional performance calendar

By implementing the strategic plan, the company may be able to locate the regions with the highest and the lowest traffic to improve its social media marketing strategy (Clark, 2007). Besides, the company may be able to accurately determine the average duration of access to these sites to track the success of its online channels before and after implementing any expansion plan.

References

Aldan, F. (2008). Computer security management. New York: Fraser Publishing Company.

Anderson, L., & Dougall, T. (2010). Computer security. London: Elsevier Science Publishers.

Checkland, P. (2007). Systems thinking, systems practice. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Clark, G. (2007). Security and protection in information systems. Alabama: Elsevier Science Publishers.

Jiawei, H. (2011). Data mining: Concepts and techniques. United States: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

Reynolds, G. (2009). Information technology for managers. New York: Cengage Learning.

Tharp, B. (2009). Organizational culture. New York: McGraw Hill.

Turban, E., Volonino, L., & Wood, G. (2012). Information technology for management: Advancing sustainable, profitable business growth (9th Ed.). New York: Wiley Global Education.

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