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E Commerce at Williams Sonoma Case Solution

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
1222 1124 Words (4 Pages) Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Daniel Galvin Harvard Business School : 300086
This solution includes: A Word File A Word File

Williams-Sonoma was a company that sold merchandise. However, the company required a change to adapt to the trend of increasing online businesses and e-commerce. The company did not react instantaneously which would not have resulted in the development of a consolidated strategy for the expansion in this division. An instantaneous or rapid approach to change would not have resulted in the company becoming so successful in its e-commerce operations. The company took the time to assess the companies that had expanded to the e-commerce segment and took their situations and mistakes into account in the development of a strategy for the company. This case shows the implementation of Kotter’s eight-step model to change because of the systematic process of change that the company adopted.

Following questions are answered in this case study solution

  1. From the Williams-Sonoma case, assess Patrick Connelly's effectiveness as a change agent moving Williams-Sonoma toward e-commerce. What barriers did he face, and how did he overcome them? What were the key steps in his change process as the first champion of change?

  2. How well did Michael Dunn take up the challenge?

  3. What are the remaining barriers to change that Shelley Nandkeolyar faces?

  4. Which change frameworks or tools from the course are most relevant to Williams-Sonoma's e-commerce efforts? Which additional tools might be helpful?

Case Analysis for E Commerce at Williams Sonoma Case Solution

1. From the Williams-Sonoma case, assess Patrick Connelly's effectiveness as a change agent moving Williams-Sonoma toward e-commerce. What barriers did he face, and how did he overcome them? What were the key steps in his change process as the first champion of change?

Connelly faced several barriers from those who were resisting the change process. These people included the top executives who did not approve of the idea of serving as the major obstacle to the achievement of a new business stream. However, with the main change agents and opinion leaders not accepting his proposal, he developed a practical plan for the implementation of an e-commerce strategy and the solidification of a brand strategy. This was because gathering opinion leaders was the first step to initiating a change in the organization. With these efforts and a careful and cautious approach adopted, he succeeded in persuading the opinion leaders to bring this major change to the organization by making them realize the need for change.

Also, another step that made him the change champion was testing the e-commerce segment on the customers for their reactions. This was done in order to make sure that the audience was ready for the change in the business of the company. These tests were successful because of the planning done by Connelly before the persuasion of the opinion leaders. This success combined with the knowledge gained from these pilot tests solidified the reason for developing an e-commerce segment and initiating change in the organization. In this case, the key steps that Connelly took that made him the change champion was overcoming the hindrances to the change process and persuading the opinion leaders of the company by presenting the need for change in the company.  

2. How well did Michael Dunn take up the challenge?

With the need for change highlighted by Connelly, Michael Dunn, the president realized that this change was required in order to stay sustainable in the long run. This was important for the brand as well as the profitability of the company. He considered the investment in this new division as and long-term return for the business. However, the challenge to expand to e-commerce was one that required not only the financial investment aspect but also the strategic investment of these funds. For this purpose, Dunn assessed the companies that had expanded their business to the internet. As a result, the president did not rush to invest in the division. This was because the assessment of the companies revealed that the companies that had expanded to the internet did not gain an advantage by being the first movers. The survival rate of companies conducting online businesses was assessed, and Dunn then evaluated that a strong strategy was required to survive in the internet division.

Michael Dunn took up this challenge very strategically because he first assessed all the conditions of the internet businesses in order to gain information on the factors that led them to their success or failure. As a result, the first movers’ advantage was not a significant component in the development of an online business. Dunn did not take the decision to change in haste but assessed the right time and capacity to change in order to make the e-commerce business successful and the investments strategically invested to gain maximum benefits.

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