If your company manufactures shoes or apparel, you already know about the rapidly growing problems of counterfeiters and gray-market sellers retailing products under your brand’s name but without your permission. We hope you’re already taking steps to combat those problems, because they can undermine the brand value your company has worked so diligently to grow.
But because fashion brands are among the most competitive of any product category, you might also be facing a similar problem you haven’t yet focused on — your official retail partners advertising your products below the prices set in your MAP policy.
So in this post, we’re going to offer a few tips to help you make your MAP policy more effective — and less of a pain to manage.
1. Draft and publish a MAP policy ASAP.
Maybe your company hasn’t yet developed a MAP policy, perhaps because you’ve focused your brand protection efforts on dealing with unauthorized third-party sellers and even counterfeiters. That’s perfectly understandable, but it leaves open the possibility of online price erosion from your official resale channel — and you’re not even aware it’s happening.
This is dangerous for your brand, for all sorts of reasons. And because they have something to lose, your honorable retail partners will in most cases abide by your MAP pricing if you put the policy in place. So if you haven’t already done so, that should be your first priority.
Caution: Developing a MAP policy can be tricky. You can’t simply copy a policy from the web, because different businesses will need to include different details and language in their policies. Also, many of the MAP templates you’ll find online are written in ways that actually create antitrust concerns. You don’t want your policy putting your company in legal jeopardy.
2. Take an active role in monitoring and enforcing your MAP policy.
Here, we have two pieces of bad news, and one piece of good news.
First, in the hyper-competitive fashion industry, your retail partners are often under significant pressure to compete on price. This is especially true if several retailers are selling your products online, where they all know shoppers can instantly comparison shop from their mobile devices.
This means even reputable retailers might be tempted at times to violate your MAP policy temporarily for any number of reasons: to hit a monthly quota, to offload excess inventory and free up budget to buy newer products, because they’re worried about being undersold by another retailer who has the same idea, etc.
All of which means your company needs to monitor your entire resale channel at all times, so you can react quickly if you spot a seller violating your MAP pricing.
That brings us to a related bit of bad news. If your retailers sell your products on Amazon, you need to know that Amazon itself does not typically get involved if a brand complains that a retailer is advertising its products below MAP.
Amazon’s official policy is that MAP pricing disputes are between manufacturer and retailer. As long as the seller isn’t violating Amazon’s own rules for listing products on its marketplace, the company tends to refuse getting involved.
In other words, when it comes to your products on Amazon — or really anywhere online, for that matter — you won’t be able to rely on the marketplace or eCommerce website itself handling your MAP policy issues. That responsibility rests entirely with your apparel or shoe company.
But that brings us to the good news: You don’t have to worry about monitoring and enforcing your MAP policy alone. There are tools out there that can automate and streamline the process for you.
3. Implement price monitoring software.
With the right MAP policy software, you can automate the process by deploying a web app to scan the internet at all times for your products’ sale presence online.
This software will quickly catch MAP violations, document these violations for evidentiary purposes, alert your team, and even automatically begin the enforcement process by warning the offender and demanding they remove the violating ad or listing.
Not sure how to develop, publish, monitor, or enforce your MAP policy? Don’t worry: a TrackStreet brand protection expert can help.