MAP Enforcement: Why and How to Enforce Your Brand’s MAP Pricing
How to Enforce Minimum Advertised Price Effectively
MAP enforcement is what gives your policy strength. The biggest component to effective price policy enforcement is treating all violators equally. Your policy must apply to everyone across the board – no looking the other way for certain large retailers. This can seem daunting if your brand is just starting out, but you’ll quickly see why it’s so important.
Why MAP Policy Enforcement Is a Key Component of Brand Protection
Without retailer price enforcement, your MAP policy has no real meaning. When sellers are permitted to violate your minimum advertised price without consequence, there is no incentive for them to raise price.
Even trusted partners may drop prices if they see others doing so with no reprimand from you. Or they may simply not be able to compete and stop supporting and selling your products altogether.
When you’re enforcing consistently, price is no longer a factor in consumer decision making. They’ll find your brand advertised at the same prices at all brick and mortar stores, as well as ecommerce sites, and they’re free to choose where to purchase based on other factors such as service.
This levels the playing field for all retailers and improves the experience for end users. They get the support they need from sellers who are confident they can afford to put their resources toward promoting your brand.
Amazon MAP Pricing Enforcement Is Not Enough
One of the most frequently discussed topics surrounding online seller enforcement is the Amazon marketplace. It’s certainly an issue: we know that price is one of the main factors in winning the buy box, and sellers need to be featured there for visibility.
Because Amazon is so large, brands often wonder if monitoring and enforcing MAP on Amazon and perhaps a few other marketplaces like eBay and Walmart is enough to keep violations under control. This is a good place to start – but it’s not a long-term strategy.
First, let’s look at how price wars happen on Amazon’s platform. Online advice to third-party sellers includes pricing items “1 to 2 percent lower than Amazon to have a chance at taking the buy box.”* Amazon itself is rarely the first to drop prices, but it’s quick to price match others who do, leaving your brand open to price cascading on the marketplace.
So starting with those 3P Amazon sellers is a solid plan to get things under control. But what about when they aren’t the ones Amazon is price matching? How will you know who is causing the initial problem?
That’s where a comprehensive MAP enforcement plan comes into play.
Generating Your Full Reseller Price Enforcement Strategy
When you’re starting out with MAP enforcement, the first place to look is at your authorized dealers. You know who they are, and they have agreed to abide by your MAP policy, so you need to make sure they’re being held to that standard.
After authorized sellers are moving into compliance, it’s time to look across the Internet at the whole picture. If you have violators on multiple ecommerce sites as well as marketplace platforms, you can prioritize based on factors such as:
- age of the site, assuming this will affect search engine results as older, more established sites tend to rank higher
- who is advertising on Google Shopping, and thus getting more exposure
- how much inventory marketplace sellers list in stock
Send out batches of enforcement letters in order of which sellers represent the biggest threat to your brand value: those who are more likely to be found by consumers and those who have large quantities of products available to sell at the violating price.
While implementing your strategy, you’ll inevitably come across unauthorized marketplace sellers you’re unfamiliar with. These take some detective work to identify.
How Does Unauthorized Seller MAP Enforcement Work?
Unauthorized, unknown sellers present an entirely different set of challenges for your brand. How can you enforce MAP if you don’t know who the violator is?
3P sellers often don’t list full contact information or they may change their company names multiple times to evade detection. To figure out their identities, you can try some tactics like searching their email or phone number online to see if it matches other businesses or purchasing an item from them.
This practice of buying back your own product allows you to get a shipping address, which then lets you work backward internally to find out which distributor might be selling to the unknown party.
All of these take up valuable time, however, and once you do discover who the unknown sellers are, they might just change their names and start the process all over again. So it’s recommended that you use a service that can help do some of this work for you.
Partnering with a MAP Enforcement Provider
A good MAP enforcement service will save time and effort for your company – whether you have dedicated brand protection employees or the responsibility falls to a sales or marketing associate to enforce your MAP policy. When evaluating platforms, here are some things to look for:
Does the service help you along in the process, or simply provide a data dump that you’ll have to dig through for insights? Make sure it will actually save you time in the end and not cause additional work.
How do the monitoring and enforcing aspects of the platform work together? You can’t enforce properly if your software is only monitoring for violations a couple of times a day or less. Similarly, a monitoring service is not helpful if there isn’t a built-in enforcement tool to go along with it.
How does tracking enforcement communication work? Will your letters be stored in your email inbox? Will they be hosted within the platform? Will there be proof to send to violators? A service that allows you to customize your templates, store them where it works best for your company, and capture screenshots of the violating price is going to offer the most value.
In addition to these considerations, look for a partner that’s actively working to improve the process for your brand. This could include a seller database that houses connections between parent and child domains, name change history for sellers, or more frequent monitoring.
Make sure to ask about the training and onboarding process so you’ll know what to expect and how much support you’ll be receiving as your team gets up to speed.
Your MAP Enforcement Plan Determines Your MAP Policy’s Effectiveness
Advertised price awareness is only the first step. The best-informed brands can still risk value erosion when they don’t enforce MAP. Give your policy the strength it needs by standing behind it and being firm about your requirements.
This helps maintain brand equity, secure positive relationships with dealers, and create sustainable revenue, opening the possibility for future growth.
Looking for a MAP enforcement solution that will allow you to take your brand to the next level of success? ORIS Intelligence is the most comprehensive platform for monitoring and enforcing MAP. Learn more about our services or contact us directly to discuss how we can make a difference for your brand.