WHAT IS A MAP POLICY?
Let’s start by clarifying what MAP stands for: minimum advertised price. This represents the lowest price at which a product can be publicly displayed by a retailer, without imposing restrictions on the actual selling price.
A minimum advertised price, or MAP policy, is a unilateral offering enacted by a manufacturer to ensure that their network of retailers refrains from advertising their products below the minimum advertised price.
The concept of the MAP policy emerged due to the rapid growth of the online world, which transformed into an intensely competitive space for online retailers. To gain an edge over competitors, retailers often turned to strategies like discounting, promotions, and lowering prices. With the ease of price comparison across the web, this discounting trend became widespread. The MAP policy was introduced in response to prevent this downward spiral and protect a manufacturer’s brand image, value, and integrity.
MAP violations typically manifest as ‘buy one, get one free’ offers, requests to ‘call/click for price,’ or ‘add to cart’ to view pricing. However, these violations can be easily missed if a proper MAP enforcement process is not established.
MAP ENFORCEMENT: A MARKETING CHANNEL FOR BUILDING YOUR BRAND
Building brand equity and safeguarding your brand’s reputation requires dedication and commitment. It’s a long-term investment that requires a specific mindset, strategic planning, and the right tools. More importantly, it’s about understanding that the choices you make today impact how your brand is perceived by both customers and end consumers. Brands should expand their focus beyond marketing channels with direct financial impact and consider the overall brand value and image.
This includes exploring non-traditional and untapped marketing channels like a MAP policy, where the effects become evident in the long run. This is where many business owners, CEOs, marketers, and salespeople face challenges. They struggle to quantify how a high MAP compliance rate affects their business immediately.
Although there may be short-term sales reductions, a MAP policy preserves seller profit margins in the long run. When sellers know they can achieve a certain return on your products, they’re motivated to invest in maintaining quality customer experiences, leading to increased sales and higher revenues for your products.
AUTOMATING MAP POLICY ENFORCEMENT: SELLER COMMITMENT MATTERS
Imagine you’ve taken the essential step of establishing a MAP policy. The next question is: How will you enforce your policy? While most brands initially resort to manual monitoring of MAP, why spend weeks or months identifying, contacting, and following up with violators when you can achieve this in hours or days with software? Gone are the days of manually checking product prices across major marketplaces or collecting seller contact information piece by piece. Modern technology offers automated solutions for monitoring the web for violators, gathering contact information, streamlining data, and scheduling follow-ups without requiring constant attention.
Many brands hesitate to invest in MAP monitoring software, but sellers genuinely appreciate when a brand commits to protecting their interests through technology. This conveys that you take your MAP policy seriously and emphasizes the consequences of policy violations. It enhances sellers’ confidence and trust in your products, brand, and partnership. Software helps prevent price cascading, preserving your products’ value and brand equity. Sellers can focus on factors beyond price when marketing your products. Utilizing technology for MAP enforcement demonstrates that you’re working towards common goals, understanding sellers’ evolving needs, and adapting to meet them.
When sellers are aware of your investment in software, several benefits follow, including increased adoption rates, higher overall compliance, quicker compliance, and enhanced revenue and business growth.
A BREAKDOWN OF THE MAP ENFORCEMENT PROCESS
Before diving into MAP monitoring software, establish your MAP enforcement process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting your MAP policy up and running within 30 days:
Introduction of MAP policy to sellers: Initiate communication with sellers, setting a positive tone for all subsequent interactions regarding your MAP policy. Approach this message warmly, as if writing to a friend, without instilling fear.
Provide a summary of MAP policy rollout: After some time, follow up with sellers, summarizing the MAP policy’s implementation and reminding them of the consequences for policy violations.
Monitor sellers’ compliance: Regularly check prices for all your products across your entire seller network to identify violations and compliance. The volume of sellers and products underscores the need for software assistance.
Send initial warnings to violators: Similar to step 1, maintain a friendly tone, nudging sellers with a message like, “Hey, we noticed your pricing is below MAP!” Give sellers the benefit of the doubt at this stage, as the violation could be accidental.
Reassess violator prices: Stay consistent with your monitoring schedule and notification timelines, as sellers may exploit gaps in your process.
Follow up with non-compliant sellers: Steps 5 and 6 go hand in hand. When a violator becomes compliant, you can send them a thank-you note.
Issue final notices to repeat offenders: After multiple notifications, provide a final warning to sellers consistently violating your MAP policy, outlining termination consequences.