So, you’ve drafted and published a minimum advertised price (MAP) policy. That’s great news. Your company just took an important step toward protecting your resale channel and your brand’s reputation.
But no matter how well-written the document itself is – even assuming you included all of the MAP policy must-haves – you can’t expect it to do all of the heavy lifting to keep resellers compliant. Pushing that policy out to your resale channel was just the first step in protecting your brand. Here are some mission-critical elements of your overall brand protection strategy that your MAP policy simply can’t do on its own.
1. Find pricing violations among your authorized resellers
Even assuming you were strategic about making sure all of your retail partners received your MAP policy, that means only that those retailers know the policy exists. You can hope they all honor it at all times, but hope is not a strategy.
What to do about it:
This means you’ll need to support your MAP policy with a system for monitoring your resellers’ presence across the web so you can spot violations if they do occur.
Because resellers can change prices online so quickly and easily at any time of day, and because the web is far too large to monitor all of the thousands or even hundreds of thousands of pages that feature your product listings at any given moment, you’ll want to use an automated MAP monitoring solution.
Read our online guide to how MAP policy monitoring works.
2. Find pricing violations among unauthorized 3P sellers
One thing many manufacturers and brand owners forget when they roll out a MAP policy is that the policy has meaning only to their official resale partners. Those are the companies that have something to lose if they get caught violating the manufacturer’s pricing guidelines.
But those unauthorized 3rd party sellers who are somehow acquiring your inventory and reselling it online without your permission? They don’t care about your MAP policy or any other of your other reseller guidelines. These companies have no relationship with your brand to begin with, so they have no reason to follow your rules.
In fact, one reason sellers like this buy your inventory in the first place is that they know your authorized dealers are bound by your MAP policy to offer your products at a certain minimum price – which means they can easily steal some customers away by offering the same products for less.
In other words, for these unauthorized 3Ps you’ll need an entirely different approach to preventing MAP violations. In fact, your objective when it comes to these sellers isn’t just to stop them from undercutting your MAP prices – it’s to stop them from getting their hands on your inventory in the first place.
What to do about it:
Limiting MAP pricing problems caused by unauthorized sellers requires implementing several processes that work together, such as:
- Set up distributor agreements (with consequences for violations) that restrict your wholesalers’ and distributors’ ability to resell to only your authorized dealer list
- Add serial numbers or other unique identifiers to your products, so you can more easily trace the source of leaks through your distribution channel
But even with these types of processes in place, you will still need an automated solution to monitor the web at all times for MAP violations. In fact, an automated platform like this can also help you work backward – using a flagged MAP violation somewhere on the Internet as a way to identify an unauthorized retailer who shouldn’t be selling your inventory in the first place.
3. Go after violators
No matter how well you’ve written your MAP policy, or how strategic you were about rolling it out to your resale channel, the policy itself can’t do anything to enforce its guidelines and issue consequences to violators. That step requires additional action.
What to do about it:
Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you need to build an in-house team of dedicated MAP enforcement personnel, which wouldn’t be efficient anyway. The right automated platform is actually a MAP policy monitoring and enforcement solution.
Such a solution should work by scanning the web at all times for violations of your MAP (or other reseller pricing) policy, and then automatically taking the next steps you’ve instructed it to. These steps might include, for example:
- Issuing warning notifications to sellers (including a possible series of escalating messages)
- Documenting the offenses (e.g., via time-stamped screenshots)
- Notifying the online marketplace about the offense (if the retailer is using a marketplace)
- Sending alerts to the relevant staff at your company
How to support your MAP policy with more tools to protect your brand
As you can see, your MAP policy can be a valuable tool in your brand protection arsenal. But it’s unrealistic to expect that policy to eliminate online price erosion all by itself.
You need to supplement your MAP policy with other brand protection tools that will work together to monitor the resale landscape, catch violations (not to mention unauthorized sellers and other issues), and begin the enforcement process for you. We can help – just as we’ve done for thousands of brands’ products for years.