The Internet, eCommerce, and Amazon have all been great developments for manufacturers and brands, giving even the smallest companies access to new customers across the country and around the world. But the rise of online shopping - and the increasing ease with which any retailer can sell products online - has also created problems for brands.
One growing challenge facing manufacturers is the difficulty in enforcing the minimum advertised price (MAP) policies they’ve drafted for resellers. It’s easier than ever for a retailer to undercut its competitors online by dropping its advertised price of a manufacturer’s products below that company’s MAP-approved amounts, without the brand ever discovering the violation. (There are often too many sites to monitor online.) It’s also becoming common for rogue retailers to buy a manufacturer’s products using dishonest means and offer those products online for lower prices than any of its legitimate retail partners can.
But where the market faces challenges, there are also opportunities - and the increasing difficulty manufacturers are experiencing policing their MAP policies is creating demand for a new type of professional: the MAP enforcer. Maybe this is an opportunity for you?
What is a MAP Enforcer?
A MAP enforcer is a professional representing a manufacturer, brand or other type of supplier (either as an in-house employee or as a consultant) who is responsible for protecting the company’s MAP, MRP (minimum resale policy), and other types of reseller pricing policies.
This is quickly becoming a mission-critical role for many manufacturers, for several reasons.
Two Reasons a MAP Enforcer Is So Important
A MAP enforcer can help protect a manufacturer’s key retail relationships.
One of the primary reasons to develop a MAP policy in the first place is to help the manufacturer protect the interests of its key retail partners - major chain stores, for example. By ensuring its sellers are adhering to its MAP policy, a manufacturer can keep those lucrative retail partners from being unfairly undercut and losing revenue, which will keep them happy.
A MAP enforcer can protect the company’s reputation and brand value.
Another primary function of a MAP or other reseller pricing policy is to help the manufacturer preserve its reputation among consumers and the general public as a quality brand. Allowing retailers to heavily discount the manufacturer’s products, and allowing rogue retailers to advertise them online with substandard sales copy or without warranties or customer service can all contribute to harming the brand over time.
In other words, as a MAP enforcer you can provide an important service not only for the manufacturer that employs you but also for customers and the general public. After all, MAP enforcers can help prevent rogue retailers from hijacking a brand’s products and victimizing unsuspecting customers by selling those products with misleading specs or without the customer support they’d have access to from a legitimate reseller.
Becoming a MAP enforcer allows you to help prevent fraud, protect your company from losing its key partners, preserve your brand’s good name in the marketplace, and spare shoppers from lousy customer experiences or even being outright cheated.
Sounds like a pretty cool gig, right?
What You’ll Need to Become a Great MAP Enforcer
Okay, so what will you need to get one of these jobs and to do it well? Because the profession is still so new and quickly evolving, there isn’t much out there in the way of formal educational tools devoted to it (although we at TrackStreet are developing our own Brand Protection Course, which will be available soon).
But there are plenty of useful resources you can use to learn the ins and outs of MAP enforcement and online brand protection. Here are our thoughts about the most important skills and types of knowledge you’ll need, along with some resources for further reading on each of them.
1. You’ll need to understand what’s in the typical MAP policy (and what should and shouldn’t be there).
You won’t necessarily need to create a MAP policy yourself for the company that ultimately hires you as its MAP enforcer, although if they don’t have one yet, you might.
Either way, it’s important in developing your knowledge base as a MAP enforcer that you learn what goes into the standard MAP policy, as well as what should be there and where the legal lines are. (Remember, MAP policies attempt to dictate pricing, and if handled incorrectly that can create antitrust issues for the company.)
For further reading, download our free eBook: How to Draft and Enforce a Successful Reseller Pricing Policy.
2. You’ll need to learn how rogue retailers (and even the legitimate ones) can cheat.
One reason that manufacturers are increasingly demanding MAP enforcers is that the sheer number of websites (sometimes tens or even hundreds of thousands) where their products are being offered is growing out of control. But an equally important reason is that rogue retailers are finding new and increasingly sophisticated ways to conceal their MAP violations.
So one of your tasks as a MAP-enforcer-in-training should be to study up on these devious strategies that rotten retailers use to violate manufacturer pricing policies without the manufacturer itself catching on - at least not until the damage has been done. Knowing the cheaters’ tactics will make you much more valuable as a MAP enforcer.
For further reason, start with our post: 3 Ways Rotten Retailers Are Devastating Your Brand’s Value. From there, you can sign up for our upcoming free webinar on even more such tactics to watch out for.
3. You’ll need to learn the different types of reseller policies.
We often use MAP policy as a catchall term referring to policies on how a manufacturer is willing to let its retailers and wholesalers treat its products. The truth, though, is that there are several such policies. Some are focused on advertising prices; others focus on resale prices as well. Some cover all media formats where a price may appear; others are concerned only with online pricing. Some are written primarily for retailers; others are aimed at distributors and wholesalers.
To become a knowledgeable MAP enforcer, you will want to know all of these policies and how they differ, so you can advise your future employer or client on which policy or policies to roll out.
For further reason, we recommend you start with our post: MAP, UPP, ADP, MRP, RPM, iMAP, eMAP: How Do All of These Reseller Policies Differ?
4. You’ll need to learn about the automated MAP enforcement solutions available.
Often when a manufacturer or brand discovers the extent of the harm MAP violators are creating for their resale channel or for their brand value, they will bring on a MAP enforcer but not also look into the software platforms available today to help that enforcer do her job.
It’s important to underscore that last point: Online MAP enforcement platforms are not designed to entirely replace a manufacturer’s existing team; they are meant to augment that team’s efforts and give them leverage - like the ability to monitor the entire Internet for violations 24/7.
So part of your self-paced education as you prepare for your career as a MAP enforcer should include learning about the automated platforms out there to help you enforce your company’s MAP or other reseller pricing policy more effectively.
For further reading, start with our post: MAP Monitoring Software Overview.
Go Forth and Enforce!
Of course, the above list is by no means comprehensive. You will still have plenty of learning to do before you can become an effective MAP enforcer.
There are plenty of other free educational tools on the TrackStreet site. Visit our Resources Center, the TrackStreet Blog, and check back regularly for new free eBooks, webinars, and other content we are producing right now.
The industry needs more MAP enforcers, so we wish you good luck!