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Williams-Sonoma Business Analysis

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Williams-Sonoma is synonymous with high-end retail for the home. Creating an innovative market mix of retail, catalog and e-commerce, Williams-Sonoma is strategically positioned to retain market share of the diverse mix of house and kitchen wares, furniture, linens and home furnishings segment. With strong leadership, committed to consumers, shareholders and employees, Williams-Sonoma is continuing to be profitable and provide quality unique niche products domestically and internationally.

Company Overview

In 1956, Chuck Williams founded Williams–Sonoma Inc. (WSM). Mr. Williams identified a need for a place to purchase unique and niche home and kitchen wares. His passion for cooking and entertaining ignited a revolution within the United States that is still present today.

The high-end American specialty retail company, Williams-Sonoma sells a diverse mix of house and kitchen wares, furniture, linens and home furnishings domestically and internationally. Products are sold in retail stores, catalogs and worldwide via the internet.

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Williams-Sonoma became incorporated in 1976. The brand portfolio encompasses Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Williams-Sonoma Home, West Elm, Rejuvenation, Pottery Barn Bed & Bath and PBteen.

Williams-Sonoma Inc. operates in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and franchises throughout countries in the Middle East. The home goods company is a leader in the United States e-commerce and receives approximately 50% of its 4.4 Billion revenue in fiscal year 2013 through this media. (Williams-Sonoma Investor Relations, 2013, p. 4).
Mission Statement

The mission and vision of the Williams-Sonoma’s leadership is reflected in the commitment to make people first. “The mission of our Williams-Sonoma brand is to be the leader in cooking and entertaining by delivering great product, world class service and engaging content." (Fanfar, B. 2015.)

Williams-Sonoma designs 90% of products internally, offer custom design, in home consulting and trained design consultant to offer great products and enhance their world class service. Priding themselves on the unique, niche products Williams-Sonoma offers customers a one of a kind, individual buying experience.
Organizational Culture & Leadership Style

The vision and commitment of founder, Chuck Williams remains the same after all these years at Williams-Sonoma, Inc. making people first. The leadership of Williams-Sonoma is committed to world class customer service, profitability for shareholders, employee motivation, education and recognition while taking quality personally.

Design Consultants are trained extensively in the products, uses and what would complement them to offer customers a personal buying experience. The skilled staff are trained to create intimate shopping experiences with and for consumers offering knowledge and individual attention. Williams-Sonoma identifies with the concept of selling customers a lifestyle instead of just a product. Williams-Sonoma pride itself on the world class customer buying experience and service. “We build customer loyalty and strong bonds with our customers through clienteling, in-home appointments and personalized follow up.” (Williams-Sonoma, Investor Relations, 2013, p. 15).
Marketing Mix

The high-end specialty retail company, Williams-Sonoma sells a diverse mix of house and kitchen wares, furniture, linens and home furnishings. Williams-Sonoma operates multi-channel marketing campaigns direct-to-customer retail stores, E-commerce websites, and direct mail catalogs. “Our senior executives have extensive experience building our brands with data-driven marketing and merchandise presentation in both our catalogs and online.” (Williams-Sonoma, Investor Relations, 2013, p. 26). The company develops seven unique direct mail catalogs, which include Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, PBteen, West Elm, Rejuvenation, and Mark and Graham..” (Williams-Sonoma Company Overview, 2015). Approximately 250 million catalogs are mailed annually and Williams-Sonoma recognizes this is as an important segment of their marketing plan.

Williams-Sonoma Inc. operates 585 specialty retail stores. 95% of Williams-Sonoma, Inc. store are in 44 states; 4% of stores are in Canada; and less than 1% in Australia and The United Kingdom which offers growth potential for new store development. Williams-Sonoma has also expanded to operate 27 franchised stores in various countries in the Middle East.

The retail segment has five merchandising concepts which sells products for the home, including Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, West Elm and Rejuvenation.” (Williams-Sonoma Company Overview, 2015). The location of the retail stores are located in heavy populated, visible, higher end shopping mall areas.

E-commerce makes up 50% of Williams-Sonoma revenue stream. Database development and data driven marketing is a great means to attract new customers, introduce new products, build relationships and loyalty of existing customers while generating buzz for the brand. E-commerce is encompasses a wide range of internet based advertising, emails, newsletters, as well as websites. “This segment sells its products through its six e-commerce websites:,,,, and” (Williams-Sonoma Company Overview, 2015).

Williams-Sonoma is higher priced then most competitors which constricts market share in budget conscious times. By utilizing the personalized customer attention as a means to secure market share. Williams-Sonoma sells a lifestyle to its customers who are willing to pay more for a quality product. The competitors focus on low prices and high selection of goods whereas Williams-Sonoma offer unique, niche product lines not readily available to consumers elsewhere.

By allowing for upholstery furniture to be custom ordered, each piece is unique and specific to the customers’ needs and wants. Custom orders also reduces inventory overhead by making what is wanted and needed by the customer at the time is wanted.

Specialty stores such as Williams-Sonoma face competition from Discount Retailers similar to Wal-Mart and other higher end retailers like Crate & Barrel. Inventory turnover at Williams-Sonoma is slower compared to the discount competitors because of the uniqueness and pricing of products. Competition has expanded in higher end retail spaces while Williams-Sonoma has chosen to be cautious in expansion calculating growth in an iff-y financial climate.

Williams-Sonoma may be able to reach a different demographic by offering comparable less expensive products to those consumers who also want style while remaining budget conscious.
Global Markets

5% of Williams-Sonoma retail stores are located international but with e-commerce they are able to provide world class products to the masses. The majority of products at Williams-Sonoma are imported to the United States from over 50 countries which creates a need to address global supply chain needs. Williams-Sonoma is faced with a unique issues associated with global shipping of home furnishing merchandise. A network of trusted suppliers have helped make Williams-Sonoma the 22nd largest container volume importer into the United States in 2013. (Williams-Sonoma Investor Relations, 2013, p. 10). “Regionalized distribution infrastructure is highly efficient at delivering heavy, bulky, and fragile merchandise quickly and at the lowest possible cost.” (Williams-Sonoma Investor Relations, 2013, p. 11).

Williams-Sonoma expects to have approximately 1,000 associates in 14 countries, managing every aspect of product sourcing – quality, packaging, global compliance, and logistics to combat the global supply chain needs (Williams-Sonoma Investor Relations, 2013, p. 9).
In my opinion, Williams-Sonoma is a solid company. The leadership and employees commitment to customers and their experience leads to brand loyalty. I believe that the brand would benefit from the development of a lower cost product line that could be marketed to the middle class who also love their home. This product line could compete with the discount retailers but retain the uniqueness of the brand without compromising the company’s commitment to quality. The weakness of adding a budget conscious line would be pricing the items appropriately to cover the extensive costs of importing from the multitude of countries utilized. I think a handful of these type store could be used to eliminate excess inventory that the flagship stores are unable to retain.


Farfan, Barbara. (2015, February 10). Company Mission Statements - Complete List of World’s Largest Retail Missions. Company Mission Statements - Complete List of World’s Largest Retail Missions. Retrieved from Sonoma-Mission-Statement.htm

Williams-Sonoma Inc. Investors Corporate Information (12 Feb 2015) Retrieved from:

"Williams Sonoma Business Case Study." 13 Feb 2015 .

Williams-Sonoma Inc. Company Description.(11 Feb 2015). Retrieved from

Williams-Sonoma Inc. Investor-Presentation-6-5-14. (12 Feb 2015). Retrieved from:…...

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