So, you’ve drafted and publicized a minimum advertised price (MAP) policy for your resale channel. Smart move. But as you know, a MAP policy is not a set-it-and-forget-it program. Reseller pricing policies can be effective only to the extent that resellers actually follow them and that the brand behind such policies actually take action against offenders. Which means you’ll also need a MAP monitoring strategy that’s as well thought out as the policy itself.
Here are some suggestions for an effective and economically feasible MAP monitoring strategy — based on our extensive experience helping manufacturers protect their brands online.
1. Make sure it’s in effect around the clock — because resellers’ advertised prices can change at any moment.
The frustrating truth is that resellers, particularly unauthorized retailers who have no direct relationship with your company, will often slash the advertised prices of your products during off-hours — precisely because they know these are the times your company is least likely catch a MAP violation.
So, regardless of the type of MAP monitoring strategy you implement — whether internal or through a third-party brand protection expert — you need to be tracking your products’ resale presence 24/7/365 across the entire Internet.
2. Don’t forget to “Add to cart for best price.”
Minimum advertised price policies set the manufacturer’s guidelines for how resellers may advertise its products, but “advertise” in this context is a subjective term and can differ from one manufacturer to another.
So, if you’ve stated in your MAP policy’s language that your company considers it a violation for a reseller to offer a below-MAP price in their online shopping cart, then your MAP monitoring process must also include a check of each reseller’s shopping-cart offers as well.
Yes, this will make MAP monitoring even more time-consuming and cumbersome — which is yet another reason your strategy should not be to put an in-house team in front of computers and ask them to manually review reseller sites and ads around the clock. The right MAP monitoring program will be fully automated.
3. It can present you with opportunities to grow your resale revenue.
Yes, MAP monitoring is primarily a defensive strategy. You implement such a program to protect your brand’s reputation and your legitimate resale partners against being unfairly undersold by free-riders, gray-market retailers and other shady operators.
But a well-planned and well-executed MAP monitoring strategy, ideally one built on an automated platform for MAP enforcement, can also present your company with opportunities to expand relationships with your existing resellers and increase revenue for you and them.
When you’ve deployed a system to monitor your resale channel’s advertised pricing of your products, you can use that same system to track which retailers are selling which of your products — which can also tell you, obviously, which products those retailers aren’t selling. This can create opportunities for you to proactively contact a retailer and alert them to other items in your line that they might not have known about and would like to carry.
In other words, your MAP monitoring program can also provide your company a new selling channel to your existing retail partners.
4. You can’t do it alone.
It’s not a question of how willing, ambitious or competent your in-house team is. At any given moment, your products could be appearing on thousands, even tens of thousands of reseller websites, sales pages on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, and digital advertisements.
How is your in-house team going to manually track all of this to ensure that your resellers are adhering to your MAP prices? It’s simply not feasible — particularly when you consider that the advertised prices on any of these pages could change at any moment.
The answer to all of these issues is to deploy a fully automated platform for MAP enforcement. In addition to dramatically reducing your team’s time in having to track your products’ presence across the Internet, such a platform will also enable you to catch and respond to MAP violations more quickly and consistently than an in-house team ever could.