Minimum-advertised price violators are becoming slicker by the day. Their techniques range from withholding prices until checkout or upon request, to advertising sales that significantly undercut MAP pricing. They may even use repricing software to temporarily violate your policy or automatically drop their price the moment a competitor does.
These and other forms of deceit allow authorized and unauthorized sellers to make more sales but at the cost of possible damage to your brand reputation. Map violations hurt your brand by destabilizing your regular price, eating into your retailers’ margins (and your own), and making it more difficult for customers to identify legitimate sellers.
Additionally, an unauthorized seller that offers lower pricing but without the service quality you provide could give customers the wrong idea about the quality of your brand. On the internet, false impressions can spread like wildfire, even when those impressions originate from non-credible sources. And when it comes to authorized sellers, the damage is even worse. These vendors will hurt sales from compliant sellers and perpetuate a different brand image than the one you’ve spent time trying to cultivate.
To avoid this harm to your brand, here are three tips that can help you identify MAP violations before they snowball out of control.
1. Automate MAP monitoring
To say the internet is huge would be a dramatic understatement. Every day, 2.5 quintillion new bytes of data are created, according to IBM. Sifting through this data in constant search for MAP violations is like searching for the needle in the haystack – nay, the hay mountain. And to make matters worse, some of the biggest online retailers, such as Amazon, are hesitant to enforce MAP policies for fear of losing revenue, according to CPC Strategy contributor Tara Johnson. In other words, brand manufacturers are on their own.
Even a team of vigilant individuals working around the clock would be incapable of sniffing out MAP violations in a timely manner. However, there are better ways to navigate the ocean of Big Data that is the web: using analytics-driven MAP monitoring software. By automating MAP monitoring through the use of a tool like Prowl from PriceSpider, brand manufacturers can swiftly identify infractions and deal with them quickly and effectively.
MAP monitoring software such as Prowl automatically crawls everywhere your SKUs appear — from retailers to marketplaces — and compares the prices it finds to the prices defined in your pricing policy, flagging any MAP violations it finds. The best software will screenshot every MAP violation and enable you to respond to them in batches, streamlining the MAP enforcement process.
The more frequently your MAP monitoring software crawls sites, the more MAP violations it will catch. Since some MAP violations only occur when an item is in cart, you’ll want a tool that checks those prices as well.
2. Create ‘credible’ penalties
Authorized sellers need to be made aware that your brand is enforcing its MAP policy. This means actually making these sellers agree to a MAP policy and reminding them of it as needed. It also means laying out MAP violation penalties that won’t come across to sellers as empty threats.
Simply put, being too heavy-handed might give sellers the impression that you’re blowing smoke in an effort to appear big and bad. However, Kellogg Insights recommends a more delicate touch: Create a warning policy or nominal penalty. Hit them with a heftier fine on second offense, and threaten to sever ties with that vendor.
If sellers don’t believe you’ll act on your policy, the MAP violations are going to keep piling up. (Especially if you prove their point by not following through.)
3. Track repeat offenders
“If a seller violates a MAP policy once, there’s a strong chance they’ll do it again.”
Of course, to enforce penalties for repeat MAP violations, you need a way to track prior infractions and make sure supporting information is readily accessible. Otherwise, you run the risk of overlooking a repeat offense. Brand manufacturers need an automated way to flag repeat offenses. Failing to come down heavier on the second MAP violation, and to do so immediately, may give sellers the impression that you’re lenient. And while you don’t want to come off as overly aggressive, you don’t want to seem like a pushover either.
As they say, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” It may be a platitude, but where seller networks are concerned, it rings very true. If a seller violates a MAP policy once, there’s a strong chance they’ll do it again. And if the second offense is punished no differently from the first, they’ll do it again and again.
Don’t let sellers take advantage. Contact PriceSpider for more information about how to effectively enforce your MAP policies and reduce MAP violations.