MAP policies, being unilateral in nature, are the responsibility of brands/manufacturers to follow up on. In my case, that meant trying to devise a MAP policy and monitoring methodology for my brand's products, but in the process of doing so, I soon found myself with a clear choice: Do I create and implement a system of monitoring from scratch, or do I make use of some kind of MAP monitoring software to get the job done?
With some thought, I was able to reach a conclusion that worked well, but I'd like to lay out some of the considerations I had to keep in mind during the process so that other brands weighing their options can be a bit better prepared when faced with a similar decision.
Where Manual Methods Can Fall Short
Savvy readers will notice that the question isn't whether or not MAP monitoring in general is a good idea -- that much is well-known already. In order to protect their reputation and ensure their MAP policy is being followed, it's in a brand's best interest to engage in some kind of monitoring. The true question is what method to use, and, as some will no doubt inquire, "Can't you just do it yourself to make an attempt to save on costs?"
Taking a do-it-yourself approach can be tempting at first, but here's what I soon found out about manual monitoring: It's highly resource-intensive. For starters, there's the checking on all authorized and known resellers to ensure that none are violating the MAP policy. A tall order in and of itself, but one that only scratches the surface.
It's possible that a brand's products could have a multitude of resellers, and checking up on all of them just once might take countless hours, depending on how many products are in question. One time isn't all it takes, though. In order for the MAP policy to be enforced correctly, brands have to check through all their resellers at regular intervals. It's a task that would take dedicated staff to complete, and even then, there's a significant possibility they could let potential violations "fall through the cracks," so to speak. Even in cases where a manual system of monitoring does pick up on violations of a MAP policy, then the next steps -- documenting the violation, gathering evidence, etc. -- will also necessitate human involvement.
The point is, it's time-consuming and, depending on the brand, would take a prohibitive amount of investment from human workers. At any point in time, a brand's products could be on thousands of sites across the internet, sometimes sites the brand isn't even aware of. Add on top of that the price that resellers could be fluctuating prices at a moment's notice, and the entire prospect is clearly more than even a dedicated human team can handle.
How MAP Monitoring Software Can Help
Enter MAP monitoring software, which automates the process of compiling who is selling a brand's wares, figuring out which outlets they are selling on, figuring out the prices the products are being sold at and determining if those prices violate the brand's MAP policy. Just about every kind of MAP monitoring application worth its salt can provide these basic functions, which are superior to manual monitoring because they allow brands to:
* Monitor more consistently -- Instead of having a team check once a day on the sites they know about, automated solutions can do so on a more constant basis.
* Spend less money/time -- Using MAP monitoring software as opposed to a manual monitoring system cuts down on extra salaries spent just to perform this task. Since the software can work faster than a team of humans, brands also save time as well.
* Identify/document violators with ease -- Whereas manual monitoring would require an employee to log contact information of violators and collect the documentation/evidence showing that a violation had occurred, software can perform this task with greater ease and keep a tally of violations so that brands can identify repeat offenders.
In addition to having systems in place to double check violations to avoid false positives, the right MAP monitoring service will also have a robust detection system in place to find potential violations that are more difficult to detect. On top of that, they can aid in ways beyond merely detecting violations.
An engaged MAP monitoring service will also know the right steps to take for enforcement as well, helping log reseller information, reaching out to resellers, etc. While having monitoring software on its own in place is a step up from a brand trying monitor their MAP policy manually, pairing that software with a dedicated service is key for unlocking its true potential.