Your company’s products are likely being advertised in more places than you can manually track on a regular basis. Here’s how to use technology to more effectively monitor your brand’s presence across the Internet, enforce your Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policy, and preserve your relationships with resellers.
With the vastness and ever-growing reach of Internet commerce — as of 2017, Amazon was the world’s third largest retailer, closing in on Walmart — a minimum advertised price (MAP) policy is now a more important asset than ever for manufacturers and brands whose products are sold through resellers, particularly online.
And yet, although drafting and publishing a properly worded MAP policy is critical for protecting the integrity of your brand and preserving relationships with your resale channel, simply having a MAP policy in place will not do your company or your legitimate resellers much good if you fail to actively and consistently enforce it.
If rogue retailers are able to get away with violating your MAP policy — advertising your products at below your MAP-approved prices, underselling the legitimate retailers who are honoring the policy — your company might find itself with some serious problems. If retailer B finds its competitor, A, is advertising your products below your MAP prices — and getting away with it — the company might be inclined to drop its own prices below MAP levels to compete. This price erosion could lead to some of your most valued resellers dropping your products, and it could ultimately cause damage your brand’s perceived value by consumers.
So there’s the paradox. In the era of mass e-commerce, a MAP policy is more important than ever to protect manufacturers and brands. But because of the vast, decentralized nature of the Internet, manually monitoring a MAP policy and quickly reacting to violations has become more difficult than ever.
Here’s how many forward-thinking, strategically minded brands are leveraging technology solutions to prevent these problems.
3 Ways to Use Technology to Create an Effective MAP Monitoring and Enforcement Program
- An automated MAP monitoring system can scour the entire Internet at all times to track how your products are being advertised.
Consider the in-house resources it would take to constantly check across the Internet for all instances of your products being advertised and sold.
Do you know exactly how many retailers are offering all of your products right now? What about sellers advertising your products who do not have an official relationship with your company? How often do each of them change the advertised prices of those products? At what times of day do their prices change? Do they use language on their sales pages such as “Place item in shopping cart for discounted price”?
No matter how much time you devote to such a monitoring project, you probably cannot cost-effectively implement a manual MAP policing strategy that will catch all violations.
Here’s where deploying an automated MAP monitoring solution can make all the difference. You’ll simply upload your product information — SKUs, serial numbers, ASINs, UPCs, or whatever other identifying codes you’ve assigned to each item — and the system will begin crawling the Internet regularly to find all instances of these products being sold. The system will check each advertised price against your MAP policy, and alert you immediately of any violation.
- You can set an online MAP monitoring and enforcement platform to automatically take action as soon as it spots a violation.
The right automated MAP platform will also kick into action the second it identifies a violation of the policy anywhere on the Internet.
What will that action be? It depends on the rules you set for the system. For example, you can load warning messages that the platform will automatically send to the offending retailer and/or the marketplace hosting the sales pages.
You can also set rules to alert your team, if several of your warnings fail to convince to retailer to correct the violation, that it’s time to stop supplying that retailer with your products until they take appropriate action.
If you try to run a MAP enforcement program on your own, you or your team will need to handle all of these steps manually. Deploying the right technology platform allows you to think through your enforcement strategy once, then set it and forget it.
- An automated MAP platform can actually help you support and grow your business.
Because a manual, in-house MAP program will be so time-consuming and resource-intensive, you’ll probably need to devote all efforts to looking for violations and taking action against offending resellers.
But a MAP program, if managed effectively, doesn’t have to be only a defensive operation. It can also represent a great opportunity to grow your business.
When you deploy an automated platform to continually scour the Internet for all resellers offering your products — and to turn that raw data into intelligent reports — you’ll find opportunities for proactive selling.
You might find retailers offering some of your products, for example, who might not know about other lines you also offer.
You might also find new retailers offering your products who aren’t part of your official resale channel — and this might present an opportunity for your sales or business development teams to get in contact so they can formalize and perhaps expand your relationship.
Intelligent, automated MAP monitoring and enforcement can lead to all sorts of business-building opportunities.
Don’t Try to Go It Alone: Leverage Technology for a Smarter MAP Program
The bottom line here is that your MAP policy is too important to your business for your team to try handling this vast undertaking in-house. You already leverage technology to develop your products, to communicate with your customers and resellers, and to optimize your supply chain. Why not also leverage technology to preserve your pricing policies and protect your brand’s reputation?