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Low MAP Compliance? Consider Breaking Up With Your Sellers

Posted on 2nd February '17 in Enforcing - Comments

Breaking up is hard. Whether it’s with a person, place, or thing, we form attachments that are hard to let go of, even if it’s for the best.


And this isn’t just in the realm of personal life. It’s a big deal in the professional world, as well. Think about it. How many sellers have violated your MAP policy? How many times have they done it? Are they still in your network? If yes, why?


Even if they are harming the business, many brands have trouble letting go of sellers violating their MAP policy. Ultimately, it comes down to how you setup your policy in the first place, and your enforcement process when violations do occur. Let’s take a look.



IT ALL STARTS WITH YOUR MAP POLICY

When it comes to going separate ways with your sellers over MAP policy violations, it all starts with how you initially lay out the terms in your policy. It shouldn’t be done quickly and hastily. Your MAP policy terms set the expectations and are the rules to follow when it comes to your sellers advertising your products to the world. So you want to pay careful attention to how you create your policy and what you put in it. If you don’t have a MAP policy in place....well that’s a different story altogether.


It should clearly outline when a violator should be cut off -- this shouldn’t be wishy washy. It should be clear as night and day. This determines what you have to do when the time comes, so you don’t have to think about it when the time actually does comes. Save yourself the headache, your future self will appreciate it.


Oftentimes, we’ll see brands with wacky, complicated policies that are created to benefit their sellers. They do this by accommodating various types of scenarios to help with increasing sales. Honestly, this bites everyone back in the butt and leaves gaping holes for brands to be exploited. Read: MAP violations galore!


Some of the things we’ve seen include allowing different sections of products to have different MAP % off of prices or letting retailers sell on some or all of the third-party marketplaces.


At the end of the day, it makes it harder for sellers to keep track of all of the different pricing tiers. If they already don’t have the profit margins to reinvest into their business, they certainly won’t have the technology to make sure things are always kept up to date. This leaves them open to violating your MAP policy more frequently -- whether it’s by accident or on purpose. The multiple types of scenarios that you try to accommodate makes it confusing for everyone to abide by the rules, and even more difficult to monitor and enforce MAP compliance.



THE BEST SETUP FOR YOUR MAP POLICY

So how can you let go of repeating MAP offenders? Let your MAP policy do it’s work. That means setting up the right enforcement process to combat these violators.


We recommend the simplest and easiest one out there: the three-strike system. Not too complicated, right?


If you’re unsure on what to include in each of the three strike notifications, we’ll give you a quick breakdown. In our guide, The Three Must-Have Emails for MAP Policy Violators, we lay out the details for each notification, as well as provide some free email templates that you can use and make your own for MAP compliance.


Your initial notification should be a free pass. Allow mistakes to happen, while gently easing in a warning. There should be a lot of flexibility / benefit of the doubt given: this is the time where you want to exercise your judgement.


Unless it’s done by a known repeat offender, there can be several different causes for a violation. Maybe it was a mistake, it could have been intentional, or the retailer didn’t know they were violating, or it could have been that their catalog was different from your updated pricing. This is a prime opportunity to reach out to your seller, communicate with them, and ensure the right relationship is set up. Being on the same page helps everyone win.


In your second notification, remain assertive, yet professional. More importantly, stay friendly. We are huge advocates of creating allies, not enemies with your sellers, and it starts with the kind of tone you use in your communication. Using a fearful tone and threatening language doesn’t necessarily drive the action you want, only a wedge between you and your sellers. It’s about working together, not against each other. At this stage, you want to emphasize the penalty for continuing to violate your MAP policy. For instance, you may suspend the seller for 30-days.


Now, if they go on to violate your MAP prices, you’ll need to start rolling up your sleeves. If a seller receives a third notification from you, the privilege to sell your products should be revoked. By the time a seller gets to this level, there shouldn’t be a doubt that they’re intentionally violating your policy.


Not sure how to craft your three-strike email templates? Download The Three Must-Have Emails for MAP Policy Violators to grab your free guide and templates.


Although, we may not be able to get your “seller breakup rate” to 0, we can certainly help reduce that number so you do less of the hard stuff. We know these things can get messy. While it may not be possible to completely get rid of the mess, there are always ways to minimize it.



CONCLUSION

Keep in mind that any MAP monitoring or enforcement system should not be intended to punish sellers, it’s meant to help maintain a level playing field across your entire seller network. If everyone stays in line, everyone wins and reaps the benefits. If just one seller skirts the brand and your MAP policy, it messes things up for everyone.


So if you want to avoid and / or reduce the amount of “seller breakups” that you go through, make sure you create a simple, easy to follow policy, and a straightforward enforcement process to back it up.


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