A company’s reputation is its lifeline. If, for instance, customers notice inconsistencies, perhaps regarding the pricing or the taste/appearance of a product, they are likely to question the brand. They will also expect to always buy the product at the lowest price they once saw – even if it was not the correct price. In extreme cases, they are even likely to ditch a particular brand in favor of another, translating to revenue losses.
This is just one reason why companies need safeguards in place to protect their reputation. One such precaution, which forms the basis of discussion in this article, is MAP monitoring.
What is MAP monitoring?
MAP (minimum advertised price) refers to the lowest price a retailer can display to promote a product on sale, particularly online on e-commerce platforms.
To put this into perspective, imagine you are a retailer that sells electronics. If a 55-inch OLED television’s MAP is $1499, you cannot display a lower price for the said product. It must either be $1499 or a higher number. Notably, displaying the TV or any other product at a price lower than the MAP would breach the MAP policy, which is recognized by law.
The MAP policy is usually in place to ensure standardized pricing across multiple outlets. It also prevents the erosion of a brand. If customers happen to see a low price, which is much lower than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), they would never purchase that product if they noted a price increase – even if the ‘new’ price is the actual MAP. They would assume that they are being taken advantage of and that the MSRP/MAP is inflated.
The result would be abandoning the purchase altogether, which translates to a revenue loss when multiple customers follow suit. These adverse effects of not enforcing MAP make MAP monitoring a necessity.
MAP monitoring is the process of observing how online/digital retailers have priced your company’s products – or any other product falling within your purview – to establish fluctuations. It is a way of protecting a brand’s reputation and determining whether retailers respect the MAP policy.
Benefits of MAP monitoring
Indeed, MAP monitoring is a way of protecting a brand’s reputation, thereby preventing its erosion. This is just one of the many benefits. Here’s the full list:
- Protecting and maintaining a company’s image and reputation
- Preventing underpricing
- Ensuring fair competition across all the online platforms
- Protecting the retailer’s margins
Notably, MAP monitoring protects the entire supply chain, i.e., the supplier/manufacturer and retailer. But even if this is the case, it is not uncommon for retailers to violate MAP agreements. Some of the factors that motivate them to do so, the benefits notwithstanding, include:
- Unauthorized retailers who price the products lowly forcing authorized sellers to lower the prices to compete.
- Unnecessary competition. As a result, retailers lower the prices to attract buyers.
Nonetheless, what these sellers may not realize is the harm such practices cause manufacturers and suppliers. This is because the blame is rarely heaped on the retailer when consumers notice price fluctuations. Here’s a blog post about MAP monitoring to fully understand what it is.
With that being said, MAP monitoring is not a walk in the park. It has its challenges.
Challenges of MAP monitoring
- Presence of unauthorized sellers.
- The number of online marketplaces that the supplier or manufacturer needs to monitor.
- The broad scope of MAP policies that need monitoring.
The proliferation of the internet has eased the entry of unauthorized sellers into e-commerce. These unauthorized sellers are notorious for violating MAP requirements.
Multiple online marketplaces
According to a study, about 77 domains (online stores) sell a typical consumer brand’s products. This large figure complicates data gathering for MAP monitoring
Scope of MAP policies
A comprehensive MAP policy captures multiple scenarios, which prevent violations. Surveilling each of these areas makes MAP monitoring a challenge.
Manual and automated MAP monitoring
MAP monitoring can be done manually or automatically. Manual MAP monitoring follows the procedure below:
- Scouring the web looking for all retailers selling your products and checking the displayed price
- Contacting and warning all those who have violated the MAP policy
- Rechecking any violations and following up on those who are yet to correct pricing
Manual MAP monitoring is only effective when dealing with just a few retailers. If your product is sold in tens of marketplaces, manual MAP monitoring would be ineffective and time-consuming.
Fortunately, you can automate the process using web scraping tools. The web scraper will scour the internet, provide a list of all sites selling your products. It will also show you the prices at which each of the marketplaces is selling your products. With this information, you can identify sellers that violate your MAP policy.
MAP monitoring is a surefire way of protecting your brand’s image and reputation. In the same breath, automated MAP monitoring is better than the manual route.