4.1 Preliminary Results

4.1.1 Method of Data Collection and Justification

In this study, qualitative data is collected from both Primary sources and secondary sources. The primary qualitative data is collected with the help of a semi-structured interview process. Using only secondary qualitative data can lead to incomplete data and ethical concerns, therefore, the use of both primary and secondary qualitative data can help in providing a proper understanding of the COVID-19 impact on ASDA (Ruggiano and Perry, 2019). The interview on the hierarchy persons from ASDA helped in gaining a deeper understanding of the impacts of the pandemic situation on the organization.

The secondary qualitative data for the study is collected from various online sources including academic articles and credible reports published by industries and scholars. This method of data collection is justified as it allows for a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach to understanding the impact of COVID-19 on ASDA. The use of both primary and secondary qualitative data sources is important to ensure that the study presents a well-rounded view of the impact of COVID-19 on ASDA and helps in identifying appropriate measures to mitigate the negative effects of pandemic conditions on the organization.

4.1.2 Process of Interview Using Questionnaire

Interviews with five hierarchy members of ASDA- the CEO, Finance Manager, Junior Assistant Manager, Senior Assistant Manager, and Senior Management Officer- have been conducted by collecting relevant information related to their availability and their schedules. Each of them was approached and asked about the time for the interview. In addition, consent has been taken from every one of them. It is made sure that the participants are providing information regarding the situation of their own free will. In the end, the interview process was conducted by asking three open-ended questions to each of the respondents and their responses were recorded for further analysis. This way, it was possible to successfully conclude the interview session once all the responses had been collected. Every one of them gave complete and meaningful answers to the asked questions to make the interview process a very fruitful one.

4.1.3 Demographic Characteristics of Respondents

The people who were selected for the interview process are all from reputed managerial positions of ASDA, and they were all between the 35 and 50 years old age group. They all have at least five years of working experience in ASDA. This way, they could provide authentic and detailed information regarding the organisational processes and impacts of COVID-19 on the company.

4.1.4 Completion of the Interview Process and Issues Faced

The interview process was completed successfully, but not without any difficulties. While asking for consent, the respondents clearly said that the collected information may not be used anywhere else except for the study, and should be disposed of once no longer required for this study. In addition, it is also to be noted that all the respondents belonged to positions with huge responsibilities, therefore, their schedules are very busy. Thus, it was not possible to hold the interview of all five of the respondents together. It had to be done separately according to the availability of the respondents. Therefore, the process was not as interactive as it was expected to be. Even so, the overall process of the interview was a success as the collected primary qualitative data is authentic and important for the study.

4.2 Results and Discussion

4.2.1 Introduction and Background

The data analysis chapter is a crucial component of any research study as it allows for the interpretation and synthesis of collected data. This chapter is particularly essential to understand the impact of COVID-19 on ASDA as an organization. Through the primary qualitative data collected from the interviews, this chapter aims to provide insights into the organizational processes and the impact of COVID-19 on ASDA. The use of secondary qualitative data can be beneficial for the study, as it provides a complete understanding of the primary data collected through the interview process (Dufour and Richard, 2019).

The chapter starts by providing information about the interview process, which involved collecting data from selected individuals who occupied reputed positions in ASDA and had at least five years of work experience in ASDA. Furthermore, this chapter also discusses the challenges faced during the interview process due to the busy schedules of respondents and their restrictions on how collected data can be used. Moving forward, the chapter delves into a detailed analysis of the collected qualitative data. In this chapter, themes, and patterns within the data are identified and discussed, highlighting key issues that emerged from the interviews and the secondary qualitative data, collected from secondary sources.

4.2.2 Interpretation of Primary and Secondary Information

In the interview process, it is found that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the sales and financial status of ASDA. Therefore, there is a pressing need to adopt digital marketing techniques like social media advertising, email campaigns, and search engine optimisation. It would be beneficial for ASDA to invest in upgrading employees’ skills through training programs focusing on expertise in this domain. This strategic shift towards online strategies has become increasingly necessary as customers purchase heavily via the Internet due to physical retailers having lower footfalls during these unpredictable times (Rybaczewska, Sułkowski, and Bilan, 2021).  These measures should help enhance efficiency levels within company operations while simultaneously reducing losses incurred by brick-and-mortar stores.

Some themes for the thematic analysis process are also devised in this part, based on the secondary qualitative data. The themes are as follows:

  • Theme 1: Analysing the Determinants of Competitive Strategy within the Retail Industry in Relation to ASDA.
  • Theme 2: Identification of Challenges Faced by ASDA during the Pandemic and its Impact on Competition
  • Theme 3: Implementation of Effective Competitive Strategies for Resilience and Sustainability in ASDA.
  • Theme 4: Evaluating Both Positive and Negative Impacts of Current Competitor Strategies on Business Performance.

4.2.3 Research Aim and Data Collection Method

This study aims to evaluate the competitive strategy of retail companies during the pandemic through the case study of ASDA.

In this study, the interview process was to generate qualitative data. The use of both primary and secondary qualitative data provided a more complete understanding of how COVID-19 affected ASDA. The secondary data used in the study was collected from academic articles and credible reports published by industries and scholars. This strategy entails data collection from a variety of sources, including interviews and focus groups.

4.2.4 Thematic Analysis

Theme 1: Analysing the Determinants of Competitive Strategy within the Retail Industry in Relation to ASDA

ASDA is a big name in the UK retail industry, and the retail industry is a very competitive one.  Maintaining its position and profitability can be influenced by ASDA’s competitive strategies within the retail industry. There are several key determinants that can shape the approach to competition by ASDA.

One of the main factors that can be crucial for ASDA is the pricing strategies employed by the company. ASDA used differentiation strategies when it comes to pricing (Shankar Babu and Viswanathan, 2018). It can offer lower prices for its customer to provide value to them and that is done by the company by leveraging its power of purchase and its efficient supply chain. This way, the company can attract consumers who are price-sensitive.

Another crucial factor that can help ASDA in staying competitive is Product assortment and differentiation. ASDA offers a huge range of products for its customers while maintaining the best quality of the products (Tsafarakis et al., 2015). This way, the customers get value in their purchases from ASDA. This way, the company can differentiate and stay ahead of its competitors such as Tesco, Lidl, and so on in the retail industry in the UK.

The format of the store and the experience of the customers is also to be considered when aiming to stay competitive in the retail industry. ASDA invests a hefty amount to renovate the stores in order to provide a convenient shopping experience to its customers (Hussain and Ali, 2015). Innovative technologies such as AR and VR are also used in order to provide a better and quicker shopping experience for the consumers of ASDA.

Promotional activities are also another important aspect of being competitive in the market. It is necessary to understand that people are largely affected by promotional activities when it comes to the retail sector (Loxton et al., 2020). Therefore, ASDA’s promotional activities such as social media promotion can help the company to be more competitive in the retail sector in the UK.

Theme 2: Identification of Challenges Faced by ASDA during the Pandemic and its Impact on Competition

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous challenges for businesses worldwide, including ASDA within the retail industry. Understanding these challenges is essential for analysing their impact on ASDA’s competition. Here, we identify some of the key challenges faced by ASDA during the pandemic and their implications.

Supply chain disruptions: The pandemic has disrupted global supply chains, leading to shortages and delays in the availability of certain products. ASDA faced challenges in ensuring a consistent supply of essential items, resulting in potential customer dissatisfaction and loss of competitive advantage (Roggeveen and Sethuraman, 2020).

Increased demand for online shopping: With lockdowns and social distancing measures in place, there was a surge in online shopping. ASDA had to rapidly adapt its operations to meet the increased demand for online orders, including expanding its delivery infrastructure and implementing efficient order fulfillment processes (Grashuis, Skevas and Segovia, 2020). Failure to cope with this surge in online demand could have resulted in losing customers to competitors who were better equipped to handle the shift.

Safety and hygiene concerns: The pandemic raised concerns about safety and hygiene. ASDA had to implement strict safety protocols, such as sanitisation measures, social distancing guidelines, and mandatory mask-wearing for employees and customers (Wang et al., 2020). Failure to prioritise safety could have led to negative publicity and a loss of customer trust, impacting ASDA’s competitiveness.

Figure 4.1: Challenges Faced by ASDA

(Created by the Student)

Shifts in consumer behaviour: The pandemic influenced consumer behaviour, with people prioritising essential items and reducing discretionary spending. ASDA had to adapt its product assortment and promotional strategies to cater to changing consumer needs and preferences (Hussain and Ali, 2015). Competitors who quickly adjusted their offerings to align with these shifts may have gained a competitive advantage over ASDA.

Economic uncertainty: The pandemic caused economic volatility, with job losses and reduced incomes for many individuals. This led to a more price-sensitive consumer base. ASDA’s ability to maintain competitive prices and provide value for money became even more critical. Competitors offering lower prices or attractive discounts during this period may have posed a threat to ASDA’s market share.

Increased competition in online grocery: The pandemic witnessed a surge in online grocery shopping, attracting new players and intensifying competition in this segment. ASDA faced increased competition from established online retailers and new entrants. Ensuring a seamless online shopping experience and offering competitive delivery options became crucial to retain and attracting customers.

Theme 3: Implementation of Effective Competitive Strategies for Resilience and Sustainability in ASDA

There are various strategies that can be considered by ASDA in order to improve resilience and sustainability in ASDA. Some of them are as follows:

Diversify product offerings: ASDA could diversify its product offerings by expanding into new categories or creating exclusive products that differentiate it from competitors. For instance, ASDA could introduce organic, natural, and locally sourced products to attract health-conscious customers (Corporate – ASDA, 2022). ASDA could also explore new segments, such as fashion and homeware, to increase its market share and customer base.

Personalisation and customer loyalty programs: ASDA can implement personalised marketing strategies and loyalty programs to enhance customer engagement and loyalty. By leveraging data analytics, ASDA can tailor promotions and offers based on individual customer preferences and shopping patterns (Meyer-Waarden, 2013). This approach fosters customer loyalty and encourages repeat business, strengthening ASDA’s position in the market.

Figure 4.2: Effective Competitive Strategies for Resilience and Sustainability in ASDA

(Created by the Student)

Collaboration with local suppliers: Developing strong partnerships with local suppliers can help ASDA ensure a reliable supply chain and foster resilience. By sourcing products from local businesses, ASDA can support the local economy and reduce dependency on global supply chains, thereby mitigating the risk of disruptions and enhancing its competitive advantage.

Continuous innovation and differentiation: ASDA should foster a culture of innovation, continuously introducing new products and services to meet evolving customer needs. This can include offering exclusive product lines, incorporating emerging technologies for a better shopping experience, and introducing innovative delivery options (Pantano, 2014). By staying ahead of the curve and differentiating itself from competitors, ASDA can attract customers and strengthen its market position.

Enhancing customer service: Exceptional customer service can be a significant competitive advantage. ASDA should invest in training and empowering its employees to provide personalised and efficient service to customers. This includes prompt resolution of customer queries and concerns, ensuring a positive shopping experience, and building long-term customer relationships.

Theme 4: Evaluating Both Positive and Negative Impacts of Current Competitor Strategies on Business Performance

There are several competitors in the market for ASDA in the retail sector of the UK. The most crucial ones are Tesco and Lidl. There are certain positive and negative impacts of current competitor strategies for ASDA.

Positive factors include Innovation and Differentiation, and Customer Experience Enhancement. Competitors such as Tesco and Lidl are implementing various innovations such as AI and AR to make it possible to cater to the different needs of consumers. This way, they can provide a customised customer experience. Therefore, ASDA can analyse these strategies to understand the areas where it can improve its own strategies in order to better serve the customers (Ritala, 2012). In addition, the competitor strategies of improving the customer experience also help ASDA to re-evaluate the various aspects of customer service. ASDA can focus better by analysing the competitor strategies and understanding the areas that can be improved further.

Certain negative aspects of competitor strategies include competitive pricing. Competitors such as Tesco and Lidl can give hard competition to ASDA in pricing. This can lead to a decrease in profit margins for ASDA in the long run (Neupane, 2015). In addition, Tesco has a good online presence already, therefore, it can be very hard for ASDA to compete with Tesco in the online market.

4.2.5 Critical Discussion

ASDA is a reputed brand in the retail sector in the UK, and the retail industry in the UK is very competitive as there are various other big names such as Tesco and Lidl. It is necessary for ASDA to be more discreet about the strategies implemented by it to stay competitive in the market. As per Matsumura and Matsushima, (2015), ASDA needs to implement better pricing strategies in order to provide value to its customers and be more effective in the market. It can use the strong supply chain as leverage to provide products at a cheaper price to its customers while maintaining quality. In addition, ASDA needs to differentiate its products better in order to provide a better experience to its customers. The changing customer behaviour as a result of COVID-19 can be a crucial factor that makes it all the more important to provide a diversified product portfolio to the customers. The CEO of the company said, “I think focusing on online sales and putting forward strategies to minimise the risks of doing an online business can help in improving the situation.”. It shows that the company is already well aware of the business situation and working towards making an effective digital promotional strategy to effectively explore the opportunities presented by the digital platform.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous challenges for businesses worldwide, including ASDA within the retail industry. Understanding these challenges is essential for analysing their impact on ASDA’s competition. Here, identification of some of the key challenges faced by ASDA during the pandemic and their implications are done. Supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic led to shortages and delays in product availability, posing a challenge for ASDA. As stated by the finance manager of ASDA, the pandemic has, “crumbled the finance department. The management of finance became much harder with reduced revenue from sales.”.

The retailer had to swiftly adjust its operations to handle an increase in online shopping caused by lockdowns and social distancing measures. ASDA responded to the pandemic by adopting safety measures, mandatory mask-wearing, and expanding delivery capacity. Adapting was critical as competitors gained an advantage due to consumer behavior changes. Adjusting promotions to meet new demand and maintained competitiveness while ignoring them could harm customer trust and profits. The pandemic led to job losses and reduced incomes, causing price sensitivity among consumers (Balakrishnan, Sundaresan and Zhang, 2013). ASDA’s competitive pricing became vital as lower-priced competitors threatened market share. Increased online grocery shopping intensified competition from established retailers and new entrants, making a seamless online experience and competitive delivery options crucial for customer retention.

To enhance its resilience and sustainability, ASDA can adopt various approaches. One such approach is to broaden its product range by venturing into new sectors or introducing exclusive items that distinguish it from rivals. For example, organic, natural, and regionally sourced goods could be introduced by ASDA in order to attract health-conscious consumers (Iqbal et al., 2021). Additionally, the company may consider entering fresh markets like homeware and fashion to raise market share as well as customer base. Another effective method for improving engagement with customers while fostering allegiance among them would be using tailored marketing techniques along with loyalty schemes implemented by ASDA Customer Service Team. By leveraging data analytics, ASDA can personalise promotions and offers based on individual customer preferences and shopping habits, thus fostering customer loyalty and encouraging repeat business. It is inevitable that technological advancement is crucial for this. In the word of the senior assistant manager, it is possible to understand, “Assessment of the situation tells me that it is inevitable that technological expertise would be required for this strategy to be successful.”

To enhance its competitive advantage while also minimising supply chain risk, ASDA should establish strong partnerships with local suppliers. This enables the company to source products from regional businesses while supporting local economic development. Additionally, prioritising continuous innovation is crucial for ASDA’s growth strategy; this includes introducing new services/products that align with consumer demands such as innovative delivery options or exclusive product lines. By doing so, they remain ahead of competitors in terms of technological integration and improving the overall shopper experience.

ASDA faces stiff competition in the UK retail sector from several players with Tesco and Lidl being its major rivals. The business strategies of these competitors have both good and bad implications for ASDA. One positive outcome is the introduction of new ideas and unique offerings that enhance customer satisfaction levels such as personalised shopping experiences through artificial intelligence and augmented reality. As per the research of Stephen, (2016), this strategy adopted by rivals like Tesco and Lidl focuses on catering to individual customer preferences, thus raising their brand equity among shoppers. ASDA can benefit from analysing the multi-faceted strategies implemented by major retailers in the UK to ensure customer satisfaction and maintain a competitive edge. Pricing patterns between Tesco and ASDA for packaged grocery items demonstrate that improving value propositions at the core of their competitive strategy is essential (Seaton and Waterson, 2013). In this context, it is recommended that ASDA diversifies its product lines beyond traditional food products as well as explore alternative retail channels like online platforms.

Moreover, taking cues from leading retailers such as Tesco and Lidl who offer sales discounts, and promotional sales coupons alongside digital offers could improve the overall customer experience delivered by ASDA. However, combating aggressive competitor pricing may prove challenging for the long-term profitability of ASDA if not counteracted innovatively. According to Wu, Chen and Hsieh (2012), acknowledging recent trends wherein large supermarkets are losing market share to hard discounters creates an opportunity for increased efforts on both price and non-pricing elements

Furthermore investing more significantly towards strengthening its own online presence will be critical given that already established players like Tesco have captured significant market segments thereby reducing entry barriers into virtual markets. It is confirmed by the words of the junior assistant manager when he said, “Improving digital marketing and investing in digital marketing can be helpful as per my understanding.”


Conclusion and Recommendations