“We’ve seen great results in our capabilities to document our biggest brand detractors and focus on business development and product improvement. We’re able to streamline the MAP monitoring process and determine when, where, and most importantly, who is advertising our product online, and at what price.” Alex Page, E-Commerce Manager, Arlen Ness
ABOUT ARLEN NESS Since the early 1970s, Arlen Ness has been transforming the motorcycle industry through its unique line of custom motorcycle parts. They focus on manufacturing superior quality and innovative products, while using the highest grade of service and materials to offer customized bikes designed with high precision.
THE PROBLEM As a highly recognized brand in the motorcycle industry, having a large seller network comes with its own set of problems. For Arlen Ness, many of their dealers selling on eBay and Amazon had product listings well below their minimum advertised price policy (10% off retail). The average violation price sat at 5-6% below their MAP.
Alex Page, E-Commerce Manager at Arlen Ness, is responsible for implementing their MAP Policy to ensure the company is creating brand value for their dealers. For over a year, he tediously worked to enforce the policy by trying to remove violating sellers from eBay and Amazon. Manually. As hard as he worked, there were little results to be seen. Sellers would just show up under different names and/or re-list products. And thus the cycle repeats.
“It was a revolving issue that couldn’t be 100% monitored,” he stated.
It took Alex a full year to build a detailed spreadsheet of all their sellers. He created different tabs for each seller, and under each documented details of violation dates, source links, advertised prices, and notification dates. Every day for three to four hours, Alex would manually search through Amazon, eBay, and various other websites and marketplaces to find sellers and contact the ones in violation.
Once he contacted a seller in violation, he needed to check back a few days later and see if the pricing has been fixed.
“The problem was following up. Once we notified them - were the dealers and vendors actually going to change their prices? We would send them notifications, but they wouldn’t respond or they’d ignore it. We didn’t know if we were being effective.”
Steve Watkins, Global Sales Manager at Arlen Ness, and Alex sat down with the detailed sellers list and went back and forth on the question: is our process effective?
“I couldn’t find any metrics of how effective our current process was and if contacting the sellers was [working].” With little results for the time that he was spending, Alex felt like he was getting nowhere with their MAP policy.
The ultimate decision to switch to a software to monitoring MAP compliance was when dealers started going to Arlen Ness informing them that such-and-such seller wasn't complying with their MAP policy and what is going to be done about it. Every couple days, they would get such a complaint. It started getting overwhelming. “It was difficult [to] keep track of everything with the spreadsheet”.
These violations meant shrinking margins for complying sellers, which meant unhappy customers for Arlen Ness.
The software toss up came down to Channel IQ and Trade Vitality, the latter of which they went with because of our competitive cost and the return in value that they’d receive.
THE SOLUTION & IMPLEMENTATION
It took one week to set up Trade Vitality with Arlen Ness, and another week for Alex to be fully trained. “Once I got the hang of it, it was simple”. There was an initial issue with uploading prices, but Aram from the Trade Vitality team walked Alex through the steps and got it fixed. From that point on, Alex was able to take care of everything himself.
Now every morning when he comes into work, he checks the Trade Vitality dashboard: “I like seeing the trend go downwards and that things are working.” He gave the example of having 255 violations one day, and the following day, it went down to 219.
After seeing a snapshot of all the violations, he sorts them by sellers with the most products in violation and contacts them first. For Arlen Ness, this is the most effective way to get their MAP policy in order.
Some of Alex’s favourite things are around contacting sellers, such as:
downloading reports and data to attach to notifications
seeing previous conversations with sellers
knowing how many times a seller’s been contacted
automatically sending notifications through the Automagic feature
With Trade Vitality, Arlen Ness is seeing a downward trend in MAP policy violations and overall customer complaints, while becoming up to 4X times more productive. Now, he spends only 1-1.5 hours a day ensuring sellers are in compliance. In terms of effectiveness, their new monitoring and enforcement process is well on its way in helping Arlen Ness with maintaining profit margins.
“Just having the information organized with each seller’s website, phone number, and email address makes it a seamless process to contact the sellers,” shared Alex. Since implementing Trade Vitality, he’s more efficient and is able to focus his time on his many other responsibilities.
More importantly, he’s noticed a decrease in the time from initially contacting a violator to them complying. Alex sees sellers are improving quite a bit because “they’re seeing other sellers improve. If this guy is complying and the brand is actively monitoring, they will increase their price.”
“We notice the service improving our entire dealer network who are benefiting from better margins. We’re seeing [a] year-over-year sales [improvement] leading to real growth within our industry."