You know how important it is to maintain consistent pricing of your products across your sales channel – to protect your brand’s reputation and your relationships with the hardworking resellers who play a vital role in your company’s success. But you also know how difficult this can be, given how many marketplaces and websites across the web – a mixed list of authorized, honorable resellers and gray-market retailers – are advertising your products every day.
So you’ve taken the first step to protect your brand by drafting and publishing a Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policy. That was a smart move. (If you haven’t yet publicized your written policy, here are some ideas on how and where to publish your MAP.) But the next step will be equally important: Finding the right MAP monitoring software to track your products’ online presence and enforce your policy against violators.
It’s important to understand that not all MAP software tools are created equal. So before investing in one, you should know what the best-in-class MAP platforms are capable of – and you should demand no less for your business.
BEFORE YOU INVEST IN MAP MONITORING SOFTWARE, MAKE SURE IT INCLUDES THESE SERVICES
- Demand a Comprehensive View of Your Product’s Presence Across the Web
Many MAP monitoring tools focus all of their attention on the big marketplaces – Amazon, eBay, etc. – but stop there. That means if rogue resellers are violating your MAP policy on smaller marketplaces or individual retail websites, there is a good chance your MAP software will miss them.
When you invest in a MAP software application, you should expect that platform to automatically and continuously scour the web for your products – the entire web, from the major marketplaces to every mom-and-pop retail e-commerce site.
You don’t want to have to supplement your MAP tool’s efforts by manually looking for sites the tool is missing. And you definitely don’t want to miss MAP violations altogether and leave them online for your customers and authorized resellers to find.
- Demand Automated MAP Enforcement
Some MAP software applications promise an “enforcement” platform to supplement the tool’s monitoring features. But often that enforcement amounts only to sending a single notification or warning message to a violator – no escalation plan, no follow-up of any kind. If that rogue reseller ignores the message or persists in violating your MAP policy, your MAP software can’t offer much else to help you protect your brand.
Moreover, many MAP software tools advertise their systems as “automated,” but you need to know exactly what each provider means by that. Do they truly offer an automated monitoring and enforcement solution that allows you to simply input your desired settings and leave the rest of the process to the solution? Or will you have to handle some of the work manually on an ongoing basis – such as input specific details into your messages, tweak your Outlook® signature file every time you send a message, or log in to a page to look at every message before it gets sent?
A related question you should ask any would-be MAP solution provider, to determine whether they really offer an “automated” system, is what you really need to do on a daily basis to ensure that violators receive violation notices and if their solution automates sending messages directly through marketplaces’ proprietary platforms, such as Amazon’s. These messaging platforms are all different from each other, and without a truly automated system you’ll have to manually manage your MAP violation warnings yourself.
These are just some of the reasons you should scrutinize any MAP software for its level of enforcement and automation. An effective MAP platform will:
- Send automatic violation notifications (including an escalating series of messages you choose, in the order and at the frequency you select)
- Enable you to set different recipients for each violator and email that gets sent from the system
- Automatically take screenshots of each violation
- Store all MAP violation screenshots in your account for anytime online retrieval, should you need this as evidence in any legal action
- Archive your entire trail of communication with each violator, and make this documentation accessible in your account indefinitely, so you can easily access it anytime as evidence in any legal action
- Include a database that allows all clients on the system to share information about merchants “ghosting” or hiding behind fake names on marketplaces, and which links vendors who operate multiple websites and marketplace identities.
- Help you with the “Now what?” question – by automatically creating and maintaining a Do Not Sell list in your account, which shows you which offenders are persisting in violating your MAP even after receiving your warnings. AND enable you to share that Do Not Sell list on an automated basis with your organization and distribution partners.
This last point – the automatic creation of a Do Not Sell list that you can view anytime online – is a crucial component to your MAP enforcement strategy, because it allows you to quickly see who your major problem resellers are, and to prioritize where to put your enforcement energy.
- Demand a Sales Intelligence Component
A significant value-add of any strong MAP software platform is its ability to compile and organize a wealth of market intelligence relating to your product line. Such intelligence, which you and your team should be able to access anytime through your MAP software online, could serve as actionable sales discovery and warm leads.
Yet many price-monitoring tools fail to gather this data and make it easily accessible for you to analyze online. Don’t overlook these services when investigating MAP software applications, and don’t assume every application offers them all.
A robust MAP tool should, for example, be able to:
- Provide you detailed information on who’s selling your products, as well as which products in your line those resellers aren’t carrying, so you can approach them and offer those products.
- Provide contact and identity information about the vendors you don’t know
- Schedule reports that are sent to you with the information your require on your market, retailers, and violation status – on the time tables you define
- Track and present detailed sales information on each of the sites carrying your brand – so you can analyze which products they are selling.
- Classify your retailers based upon Authorized or Unauthorized status, and take automated enforcement action accordingly
- Tie in to your corporate information systems via data feeds or API integration.
- Take work off your plate and deliver actionable information that puts you in position to not just monitor but grow your internet sales channel.
If you’d like more information about the industry’s most sophisticated and effective MAP Monitoring and Enforcement solution, contact TrackStreet now.