With the growing number of brands launching MAP policies, many beg the question: by hand or with software?
For the Trade Vitality team, for the individuals who have to manually manage the process themselves, and for everyone else looking in, it seems almost obvious:
Why spend weeks or months finding, contacting, and following up with sellers in violation, when you can do it in hours or days?
Surprisingly, many manufacturers are still on the fence about investing in software to drive MAP compliance. So today’s post takes a walk through the evolution of the MAP monitoring process, the impact on your brand when sellers know you’re investing in software, and why it’s crucial to the success of your overall policy.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE MAP MONITORING PROCESS
MAP policies are apparently the latest and greatest “it” thing for brands to have. When a manufacturer rolls out their new and/or updated minimum advertised price policy to the world, they ring all the bells and whistles to make sure everyone knows. Yet, when it comes to actually enforcing these new rules across their seller network, there’s minimum to no effort put in by these brands. It’s as if they throw the policy out, hoping it will stick, with little afterthought or follow through to ensure all their vendors comply. Sound familiar?
Brands start to take notice when their MAP violations spiral out of control, and their brand equity and seller profit margins are taking a hit. To get a handle on things quickly, most manufacturers turn to manually monitoring and enforcing their MAP policy, which usually means designating the job to a single individual.
For anyone who’s currently or has been responsible for the role of ensuring a brand’s MAP compliance, they’re the only ones that can tell you the details of the tedious, painstaking, hair-pulling, albeit extremely important job:
Searching across major marketplaces and the web to check product prices every other week
Collecting seller contact information piece by piece over a long period of time
Gathering and saving screenshots for all violations
Individually copying/pasting email templates to send to sellers in violation
Updating and tracking all information in spreadsheets every single time something changes
Continuously setting up reminders of when to follow-up and re-check pricing
With the evolution of technology, manual MAP enforcement is becoming a thing of the past for brands that want to grow and protect their legacy. Although the manual process may be possible with a few products, it’s impossible to drive compliance for a growing brand with more products than your fingers can count.
For larger brands, manually monitoring MAP compliance will be more damaging than the initial investment in software. Brands are realizing this and are moving towards software to automate some and/or all of the MAP monitoring process. The latest technology is driving the evolution towards MAP policy compliance through:
Automatically finding sellers in violations every day across major marketplaces
Finding contact information for all sellers as soon as profiles are created
Instantly contacting sellers with a few clicks, with all information included in the notification for compliance
Automatically following up with sellers if they’re still in violation without setting up a single reminder or having to re-check prices
Tracking and updating all information without opening a single spreadsheet
However, there are still many brands out there who grumble at the thought of changing their ways or succumbing to technology. They’d rather stick to the old ways of doing things, and see software as “the enemy”.
Others simply don’t see the return on investment, categorizing software as a cost. Often times, manufacturers only focus on the financial “loss” at the beginning, and don’t consider the overall, long-term outcomes on their brand and profit margins.
It’s this type of mindset and approach to managing a MAP policy that results in lower compliance rates. When your seller network knows that you’re investing in software to monitor online pricing, this makes a significant impact across the board.
SELLERS CARE MORE ABOUT MAP SOFTWARE THAN BRANDS THINK
Whether you choose to manage your MAP policy by hand or by technology, either choice will speak volumes about your brand to your sellers and consumers. In this day and age of marketing, it’s becoming increasingly important what others say about you, rather than what you say about yourself.
Using software for MAP policy enforcement helps define the type of brand you are and ultimately tells your customers and the market whether you’re the type of brand they should do business with.
1. Puts teeth into your MAP policy
Software tells everyone that you’re serious. It screams that your policy is not just a scare tactic or for show. It’s a policy that you stand behind and support, and will stop at nothing to ensure that it’s properly and unilaterally enforced across all of your sellers.
For your customers, this helps increase confidence and trust in your products, your brand, and their relationship with you. They know that you’re supporting them in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Sellers often feel like they’re in it for themselves without the support from the brands themselves. The decision to use technology to drive MAP compliance signals that you have their back. In return, they’ll be more likely and willing to promote your products and your brand.
2. Strives to maintain product value and brand equity
The combination of sellers lacking marketing support from their manufacturers in a heavily competitive landscape means they usually turn to heavy discounting. This leads to price cascading and all out price wars, ultimately turning your products into loss leaders.
This situation is not uncommon, and typically happens when a manufacturer has no MAP policy in place and/or isn’t properly enforcing one. Lower prices cheapen the value of products and diminish brand equity to the point where consumers see you as the lower quality, lower price product/brand.
Automating the MAP enforcement process with software prevents this lower price domino effect and the race to the bottom, where your sellers are only competing on price. By taking away price as a selling point, they can focus and invest in value-add products and customer service.
3. Works towards the same goal
Investing in software demonstrates your understanding of the ever changing needs of your sellers and consumers, and the commitment to staying up to date with the latest technology to ensure those needs are met.
The proliferation of online retailers requires the need for software to properly enforce a brand’s MAP policy. Without regular and consistent monitoring and follow-up, violating sellers can easily fall through the cracks and impact your product value and brand equity.
The decision to use software indicates to your sellers that you’re in this with them working towards the same goals of protecting profit margins and driving growth so all stakeholders thrive.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE SUCCESS OF YOUR MAP POLICY?
Great things are to be had with technology, especially in the overall success of your brand and MAP policy! Implementing software into your enforcement process will allow your brand and your sellers to realize the full potential and benefits of a MAP policy much sooner.
When your sellers know that you’re investing in software to manage your policy, this can do a number of things for its adoption rate and success:
Increase adoption rate of the policy, which is especially important at the launch of a MAP policy as this will determine how much time you spend later on down the road trying to get sellers to comply. We’d even argue that initial compliance rates are critical to overall policy success.
Drive higher overall compliance rates, since sellers know that they can’t hide behind big name marketplaces and fall through the cracks.
Increase sellers’ time to compliance, with automatic mechanisms in place for consistent follow-up, messaging, and consequences
Drive revenue and growth of the business, with less time, effort, and resources spent on managing your MAP policy. The individual who was originally responsible for manually monitoring and enforcing can now spend time on activities that help grow the business.
Brands easily forget that a MAP policy is not a short-term fix, it’s a long-term strategy for ensuring the legacy of your brand and protection of your sellers’ profit margins. Although you may financially “save” with manually monitoring and enforcing your MAP policy, you’ll ultimately end up losing more with an ineffective process and low compliance rates.
Your decision to invest in software characterizes your goals and values as a brand. It can have a profound impact on your relationships with sellers and consumers, and the overall success of your MAP policy.
So, manual or automated? It shouldn’t be a question.