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The rise of eCommerce has heightened the already fierce competition in the consumer goods market. Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP) policies can help with this.

Implementing a MAP policy that encourages pricing consistency can help companies that offer their products to retailers and other resellers. As the number of online channels grows, more companies are implementing them to safeguard their reputations.

You must not only ensure that your MAP agreement is in place, but you must also demonstrate to your resellers that you are serious about doing business with them. This is especially true on a platform like Amazon, where the stakes are high and the prices are low.

What is Minimum Advertising Price (MAP)?

Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) is an acronym for Minimum Advertised Price. MAPs take the form of policies developed by a product's maker or brand. These regulations define the lowest price point at which a retailer can advertise a product. To put it another way; "Minimum advertised pricing (MAP) is the lowest price a store can offer for a product for sale in its most basic form. To be clear, this does not relate to the lowest price they can sell goods in their store; rather, it refers to the lowest price they can promote online or in an ad."

Suppliers can charge distributors in line with agreed-upon conditions or simply cancel contracts if they violate MAP regulations, which is not unlawful in and of itself. Orders may be withheld or contracts may be terminated as a result of such penalties.

Depending on where you are in the globe, there are MAPs for practically every product on the market, and these regulations are vast. Brands and manufacturers put a lot of effort into developing these MAPs, and they have a strong interest in keeping a close eye on the market for MAP noncompliance.

What is a MAP pricing policy?

A minimum advertised price (MAP) policy is one that any respectable brand would have a retailer agree to before supplying items to the seller.

The term "advertising" is defined differently by each supplier. In general, though, "advertising" refers to any off-site advertisement. So, if you advertise at the MAP to drive traffic to your website, then promote on-site at a cheaper fee, you can be within the agreement's limitations. On-site ads, on the other hand, maybe viewed as a breach of the rules by some manufacturers and suppliers. To add to the confusion, the definition of advertising varies depending on the product.

A minimum advertised price (MAP) policy is one that any respectable brand would have a merchant agree to before supplying items to the seller.

The term "advertising" is defined differently by each supplier. In general, though, "advertising" refers to any off-site advertisement. So, if you advertise at the MAP to drive traffic to your website, then promote on-site at a cheaper fee, you can be within the agreement's limitations. On-site ads, on the other hand, maybe viewed as a breach of the rules by some manufacturers and suppliers. To add to the confusion, the definition of advertising varies depending on the product.

Some manufacturers may even make an exception for MAP. In some situations, businesses may be permitted to market a cheaper policy to specific groups, such as active-duty military personnel or veterans. The store would have to show that the MAP reduction would exclusively benefit these excluded groups.

An exemption based on seasonality is another example. On Black Friday or during the Christmas season, certain companies may allow merchants to advertise below the MAP.

All of this is to suggest that each and every MAP policy is different. You should thoroughly review your MAP policy to determine what is and is not permitted.

What Is the Difference Between MAP and MSRP?

Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, or MSRP, is another frequent word that refers to what the product's manufacturer feels the item should sell for. MAP pricing is only concerned with product promotion, whereas MSRP is concerned with the manufacturer informing merchants what they feel the product's price should be.

The purpose of MAP pricing is to safeguard the MSRP. For example, if a company is attempting to establish a luxury brand, it does not want its products marketed at substantial discounts. It conveys the message to potential customers that the items aren't worth the MSRP.

What happens if a retailer sells below the MAP price?

If a retailer advertises a product at a price less than the Minimum Advertised Price, brands have the legal authority to pull their items from that store and limit future sales. When their supply is depleted, they might simply refuse to replace it. When it comes to developing a trustworthy connection, it's essential to stick to the MAP pricing.

Because MAP rules restrict advertised prices rather than the ultimate sales price, they are allowed in the United States under federal antitrust law. Minimum advertised pricing, on the other hand, is seen as a violation of current competition regulations in the EU and the UK. In reality, authorities in the United Kingdom and Australia have fined several firms for attempting to apply MAP rules in those countries.

What are the benefits of a MAP?

Everyone, including the brand owner, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, profit from MAP policies. The benefits of enacting such a program are obvious. The following are some of the advantages:

·      Preventing price wars

If at all possible, match your competitors' prices in the extremely competitive world of retail. This means that if one merchant gives a discount, its immediate competitors are likely to do the same. They can even do so by implementing price-matching programs in-store.

In the world of e-retailers and resellers that sell on Amazon, this issue has grown increasingly difficult. When a rival drops their price below yours, auto-repricing tools including Amazon repricer may detect it and automatically reprice your items within a defined range. This repricing technique converts a price battle into a price cascade, leaving suppliers perplexed as to how their items all went to close or below the wholesale price in the span of a few days.

Neither the store nor the reseller profits from this type of price reduction.

By agreeing on a minimum stated price at which a thing can be sold, all parties selling the item are bound by that price.

·      Avoiding loss-leader products

Many retailers prefer to sell some important items for nearly no profit or as loss-leaders, earning a little loss on each transaction, as part of a price war. They do this to increase client traffic to their stores and websites, as well as to benefit from supplementary goods with greater profit margins.

The risk of such cheap pricing is that it will have an impact on the brand value or market placement of manufacturers. Furthermore, because both retailers and customers are likely to notice significant price increases when product prices return to normal levels, this might build expectations throughout distribution networks for reduced pricing across the board.

·      Keep being competitive

A MAP policy can protect suppliers from being outcompeted by their own partners, as GoPro and a few other tech goods have demonstrated. Distributors and retailers can only provide a restricted discount under an imposed MAP regulation, allowing a supplier shop or website to stay competitive.

GoPro's pricing are only slightly more than those offered by legal distributors and resellers, ensuring that sales on their own site continue to flow.

·      Cutting ties with  poor performers

With a solid MAP policy in place, you can simply cancel contracts with distributors who aren't adding enough value to your company and jeopardizing the value of your brand.

At the same time, although suppliers can fire underperforming distributors, they can reward those who follow the rules with higher profit margins. This is beneficial not just to the provider, but it also reduces competition for the remaining distributors by removing wholesalers that violate MAP standards.

·      Be appealing to physical stores

Because of their low overheads, online retailers may afford to operate with lower margins on product lines. If store-based resellers realize that online retailers consistently sell for far less than the MSRP, at a price they can't afford, they'll be less excited about utilizing valuable shelf space on your items as a physical showcase for their online competitors.

Stores will acknowledge the suppliers' endeavor to level the playing field if the MAP guideline is closely monitored and strictly implemented. This can make your goods more appealing to these retailers, and in some situations, it can even allow suppliers to demand higher profits.

What is MAP Monitoring?

MAP monitoring is the practice of checking your online retailers' pricing across all marketplaces to see if they're in compliance with the MAP. Once you've developed a MAP policy, your emphasis should go to MAP monitoring.

Monitoring, like MAP pricing in general, has its own set of advantages for your company.

The Value of MAP Monitoring

Those who regularly check their online retailers for MAP compliance have a significantly greater chance of defending their reputations and earnings than others.

MAP tracking is beneficial since it displays the pricing of each of your products, as well as who sells them and where they are sold. This knowledge is quite beneficial. Once you have it, you may decide whether or not those resellers are approved by you. You may contact any non-compliant or unauthorized seller and suggest that they improve their behavior—in certain situations, even converting them to approved sellers.

In addition, your authorized sellers should promote MAP monitoring. Authorized sellers would have to follow suit and lower prices as well, given that unlicensed merchants are more likely to price too low, adding to price wars.

Price wars on the internet have an impact on brick-and-mortar stores as well. When a B&M shop notices that your items are cheaper at an online competitor, they will try to negotiate a lower price with your company. As a result, your margins and sales may suffer. The likelihood of these events occurring will be reduced if MAP offenders are caught early and often.

In conclusion, MAP monitoring allows you to assess how well your distribution partners are protecting your brand, and your brand's pricing insight is critical.

How to enforce MAP

·      Issue a warning

The first MAP violation should usually be followed by a warning. Take advantage of this opportunity to speak with the vendor and learn why the MAP was breached. The reasons might reveal difficulties with your current pricing policy or retailer concerns, and first-time infractions may be best served by a warning rather than a punitive action.

·      Stop all shipping

Retailers who violate the MAP in the future may face harsher penalties. After the breach is discovered, one simple measure you may do is to impose a temporary hold on shipping important items. The severity of a MAP violation will be clearly stated by this supply limitation, especially if the product is a high performer.

·      Reduce your assortment with the retailer

If the same store violates the MAP again, more severe action will be taken. Rather than putting a temporary halt on shipment, you should decrease your selection with that merchant permanently. Remove goods from their virtual shelves, as well as additional SKUs, for recurrent infractions.

·      Change the status of an unauthorized seller

In comparison to approved merchants, unauthorized sellers demand a different strategy. If you find a MAP violation attributed to a seller you don't know, you'll need to find out more about them and approach them. Find out who they are, why they're selling your goods, and where they obtained it from, and then let them know about your MAP policy.

The best-case scenario is that the seller is legal but unregistered, and you turn them into a reseller member. In the worst-case scenario, they're counterfeiters or selling stolen items and you'll need to take legal action against them.

·      Take away their authorize seller status

Finally, any repeat offenders can be handled with by terminating your partnership. For repeat offenders who have not reacted to previous enforcement measures, this is a potential choice. At this point, you should stop distributing to that retailer and agree internally not to work with them in the near future.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, setting a Minimum Advertised Price may not be appropriate for all products or businesses. However, given the increasingly competitive nature of eCommerce, many brands will benefit from implementing a MAP policy. Just make sure you have legal guidance before putting your own policy in place. Do you need some assistance getting started? Get in touch with us today.

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