Breaking Minimum Advertised Prices (MAP) has been going on for a long time, but the Internet has added a new level of transparency to the mix. No longer is it a side deal in some local store, the prices are published online for all to see and compare. And for the brand (especially those with thousands of SKU’s), this can be incredibly hard to track.
For many brands, tracking violations is a manual process of searching and logging information into a spreadsheet. This is one-dimensional and does not give a deeper view into trends, repeat offenders, etc. It’s also hard to track violations that occur in different parts of the buyer’s journey, whether it’s the initial display price, the in-cart prices or the shipping prices.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We helped one of the world’s largest brands of athletic shoes, apparel and sports equipment get a full view of their channel and all their SKU’s, with our big data analytics solution. Suddenly, it was no longer one random violation here or there, they were able to watch and track patterns of behavior across their channels. And this also gave them a full view of distributors who were not authorized to sell their products.
Data analytics has afforded brands with the intelligence they need to be aware of and stop violators, but now it means brands need to have a strong (and consistent) strategy in place to enforce MAP. Below are some things to think about when establishing an enforcement strategy.
Develop an Internal Process for MAP Enforcement
First, brands need to establish a process for going after violators. That is, brands should establish the circumstances under which a retailer would face repercussions. From there, they should work with all internal parties to determine the steps that should be taken to escalate the issue to the appropriate person or team.
Determine the Repercussion for the Violations
Brands need to figure out how to act on the violations. Depending on how strictly you’d like to enforce your MAP policy, repercussions can include verbal warnings, zeroing out inventory feeds, or even holding orders until the retailer complies.
Thus, the tools to help brands track and identify issues exist. It’s up to brands to make sure to enforce their policies and protect their brand reputation. However, as more brands get smarter about MAP violations, retailers will need to make a change in their strategy for the benefit of their relationships with the brands.
Mihir Kittur is a Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Ugam. He oversees sales, marketing and innovation and works with leading retailers and brands with insights and analytics solutions around their category decisions to improve business performance.