Going after MAP policy violations is mission-critical to protecting your company’s brand value and bottom line. But dealing with misbehaving resellers after they’ve already violated your pricing policy — no matter how effectively you do it — is still playing defense. Better to figure out how to avoid MAP policy violations in the first place. Here are a few ideas.
1. Implement an authorized dealer program
This is a great way to stop playing defense when it comes to protecting your products’ pricing — and go on offense.
By creating an authorized dealer program (sometimes called an authorized reseller program), you are limiting the retailers who are allowed to represent your company and sell your products. This accomplishes two things — both important for helping you avoid MAP policy violations.
The first benefit of such a program is that it gives your company the ability to vet any would-be retailer before giving them your official permission to sell your products to the public. Because a reseller that wants to join your network will have to apply, you’ll have the chance to review that company’s history and business practices — so you can screen out all but the retail partners most likely to honor your policies or to add value to your customers.
A second benefit of an authorized dealer program is that because each reseller has to join, and because being in the program will give the company special benefits (see below), these resale partners will have something to lose if they violate your policies. That will also help you reduce the chances of MAP policy violations.
Oh, and there’s a third benefit: When you construct an authorized dealer program and allow only those retailers in the program to sell your products, you’ll have much more legal latitude to aggressively go after any gray-market retailers you discover offering your company’s products but who aren’t in your program.
In fact, even if these rogue resellers advertise your products below your MAP-approved levels, technically these won’t be MAP policy violations — they’ll be authorization violations, because these companies never earned your company’s permission to represent your brand in the first place. So developing a network of authorized dealers will make it easier to spot those companies who have no business selling your products, and it’ll give you more freedom to pursue those companies.
2. Give your authorized dealers a trust icon to let customers know they’re an official partner endorsed by the manufacturer
Once you’ve created a program that a reseller must apply to join to become an authorized reseller of your company’s products, you’ll want to help these retail partners communicate to their customers that they are indeed your official partners.
A trust icon can work wonders here. We recommend creating an electronic seal or badge that your resellers can place on all of their sales pages and ads demonstrating they are indeed a “Verified Dealer” of your products.
Ideally, your trust badge will be a clickable link that, when a shopper at your resale partner’s site clicks on it, will pop open a live window from your site that confirms the retailer is in fact part of your official network and has earned your company’s endorsement as a reputable seller of your products.
Actually, this can all get very time-consuming and complicated. So a simpler and more efficient solution will be to let a team of brand protection experts create and deploy your resellers’ trust icons for you.
Again, because being a part of your authorized dealer program gives your resale partners something of value to help them increase their bottom line — in this case, a valuable icon proving to customers they’re a reputable reseller — your retail partners will have more reason not to commit MAP policy violations that could jeopardize their good standing with your company.
3. Communicate to all resellers the consequences for committing a MAP policy violation — loud and clear
If you really want to avoid MAP policy violations from happening in the first place, you need to make sure you are clearly communicating to all of your authorized retail partners exactly how committing such violations against your policy can harm their business.
You’d be surprised at how many businesses we’ve spoken with that had drafted a reseller policy of some sort, but then failed to develop a system to ensure every new and existing reseller knew the policy existed — and what the penalties would be for violating it.
Not all of your resale partners will honor your policy all the time. You probably won’t be able to stop every future MAP policy violation, no matter what steps you take. That’s why you’ll also need an automated system to monitor your products’ pricing across the Internet at all times, and to alert you immediately anytime someone does violate your policy.
But if you want to avoid as many of these MAP policy violations as you can, one of your first steps should be communicating the details of your policy — and your seriousness about enforcing it — to all of your resale partners.
Need help rolling out a reseller policy and automating your price monitoring and enforcement?
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