MAP stands for minimum advertised price. It defines the lowest price at which a digital retailer can promote a product or display it on the platform. The MAP is captured in a MAP policy, an agreement that authorized retailers sign with manufacturers/suppliers. The latter group uses MAP to protect its reputation and brand image, although MAP also benefits retailers and consumers.
Here’s a scenario that perfectly captures the paragraph above. Supposing you are a manufacturer who sets the MAP at $100. A retailer cannot display a lower selling price than this figure; it should either be $100 or higher.
But how does this protect you as the manufacturer? Well, if a consumer sights your product – whose MAP you have set at $100 – on one marketplace being sold at $70, they will perceive this as the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). If they encounter the same product in another marketplace going for $100, they will reason that they are getting played. They will infer that the $100 selling price is inflated and will not purchase the product.
The price fluctuations resulting from MAP policy violations will ultimately hurt your brand, given that more and more consumers will shun your products due to massive inconsistencies. That said, how do you protect yourself? How do you enforce your MAP policy? Through MAP monitoring.
MAP monitoring refers to the act of observing whether digital retailers abide by the minimum advertised prices stipulated in the MAP policy. It is carried out either manually or using automated tools. Both cases use the following procedure:
- Looking for all the marketplaces selling your products and checking the prices at which they are being sold.
- Establishing any violations by comparing the MAP contained in the policy with the prices on the online platform.
- Flagging those that have breached the agreement and issuing warnings.
The procedure greatly simplifies the entire process, perhaps painting a different picture from reality. This is because the workload required increases with the number of online marketplaces. This means that manual MAP monitoring is only feasible if you deal with a small pool of retailers. Otherwise, it is a time-consuming and ineffective undertaking, especially since there are over 150 marketplaces globally.
If you’re interested in getting more information, we suggest you read Oxylabs’ article about MAP monitoring.
Manual MAP monitoring has the following disadvantages:
- It is slow.
- It is costly – the human resource required to accomplish the task, especially when dealing with multiple retailers, is extremely high.
- It is ineffective – the human staffers may fail to spot some retailers whose prices breach your MAP policy. In this regard, your brand has a higher likelihood of being eroded if you opt for the manual MAP monitoring route.
- A human being is limited and can only do so much, yet MAP monitoring should be ongoing. Continually looking for websites that violate MAP policies is likely to take a toll on those monitoring the prices. Furthermore, the monotony could prove disadvantageous in that regard.
These drawbacks point to the importance of automated MAP monitoring.
Modern businesses should use automated MAP monitoring because it packs a punch in terms of the benefits. These benefits include:
- It provides the capacity and capability to monitor multiple online marketplaces.
- It is efficient since it is unlikely to miss any existing and new information.
- It is accurate – the web scrapers rarely make mistakes.
- It is fast – it yields results and data within a short time.
- It is reliable – you can rely on web scrapers to provide data on MAP round the clock.
Automated web scraping tools carry out automated MAP monitoring. Web scraping refers to the process of extracting data from websites. As such, during MAP monitoring, these tools extract pricing data. They subsequently go a step further by converting the data in a structured format, making understanding everything a breeze. With these tools, you can easily identify retailers that violate your MAP policies.
MAP monitoring is advantageous to manufacturers/suppliers, retailers, and consumers. The benefits to each of these three categories are listed below.
- It protects the brand image
- It helps identify unauthorized retailers who are then eliminated
- It ensures standardization of prices across all retailers, thereby reducing unnecessary competition pressures
- It increases sales because retailers stock more and consumers purchase more
- It eliminates unauthorized sellers and, therefore, unnecessary competition
- It protects their margins since they are assured that no undercutting exists
- It enables them to purchase genuine products
- Authorized sellers offer after-sale services and warranties
MAP monitoring ensures that all parties benefit. These benefits, coupled with those realized when using automated tools, make MAP monitoring an attractive exercise for modern businesses. With MAP monitoring, you will get to protect your brand while safeguarding your revenue streams. It will also guarantee loyalty and trust from those consuming your products.