From now until the end of the year, the world of ecommerce is pretty crazy. Every online retailer is trying to compete to offer the best possible prices, and consumers are scouring the web for the best deals they can find. There’s a lot of money to be made–but there’s also a higher risk that sellers will violate your MAP policy.
Starting this week, your prices will constantly fluctuate until the end of the year. Consumers who want your products are hunting for the lowest price and waiting for the ideal time to buy. Sellers have more motivation than usual to undercut their competitors, and this all serves to create more opportunities for pricing mistakes and MAP violations to occur.
So are retailers following your MAP policy right now? Some are. But some definitely aren’t.
If you look at your MAP violations over time, you may see some spikes during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the weeks leading up until Christmas. Given the number of transactions and sales happening during this time period, you’ll want to be aware of what is happening with sellers everywhere.
Here’s what you should know about MAP policy violations over the holidays.
Consumers have different expectations right now
The two biggest concerns with MAP violations are that the prices reduce your margins, and that the lower prices can negatively affect your brand integrity. Once consumers see the lower price, it changes their perception of your brand and the value they associate with your products. It anchors your price, even if it’s not approved. It also makes it harder for consumers to tell the difference between your official products and fraudulent copycats.
But it’s a little different over the holidays. Consumers are expecting to see ridiculous deals right now, and they know they won’t see prices this low any other time of year. So in that sense, violations may not have the same impact on your brand that they would during other times of year.
It will hurt your margins, though. And some products aren’t supposed to ever be discounted. Plus, if you let violations slide now, it could create bigger problems next year. So even though it might not hurt your brand as much in the eyes of consumers, you still want to stop violations. Just keep in mind: especially during the holidays, some sellers may accidentally violate your policy.
It’s not always intentional (and it might be an easy fix)
It’s extremely common for stores to create storewide sales that offer a percent discount on purchases. If that discount drops below your minimum advertised price, your product should be marked as an exception to the sale. But that doesn’t always happen, and when it does, it might not be on purpose. Retailers might also offer coupons that give discounts on one item or an entire order, and again, it should be set up to rule out your SKUs if it would create a MAP violation.
Incidents like these aren’t malicious attempts to undercut your price for a competitive advantage. Accidental violations still do damage, but they’re often easy to correct–as long as you spot them, and you have a way to contact the seller in question.
It helps if you enforce your policy throughout the year
Sellers are a lot more likely to intentionally violate your pricing policy when they think there won’t be consequences, or that those consequences are worth enduring for a temporary advantage. So if you’re worried about whether or not your sellers will respect your policy over the holidays, the answer partially depends on what you’ve been doing about violations so far this year. Sellers who have recently received strikes or tangible consequences for MAP violations are going to be a lot more cautious with your SKUs, whether they’re having a major sale or not.
Make sure you have the tools to track violations
Even if you only have a handful of SKUs and a few sellers, it’s impossible to manually watch your product pages all the time. With price intelligence tools, you can automatically track thousands of SKUs across thousands of websites, so whenever someone does violate your price, you’ll know.
Keep in mind: especially during the holidays, it’s important that you have the tools to track each website’s in-cart price, too–not just what they list on your product pages. Coupons and other discounts may not activate until your products are in a customer’s cart.
Protect your price
The holiday season is just getting into full swing. If you don’t have the right tools to protect your price, your brand and your profits are vulnerable. PROWL is a price intelligence tool that pulls pricing from sellers 8 times per day and has access to in-cart pricing, so you’ll know as soon as a violation occurs.
Schedule a demo today, and see what PROWL can do for your brand this holiday season.