Unfair pricing in the marketplace can have a variety of origins, from liquidation events to display only products to stolen goods, counterfeit, and exploited loopholes in discount programs. Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) agreements provide one avenue to maintain fair pricing within the marketplace. These agreements signify that distributors have committed to act with integrity by following quality guidelines and selling genuine products. The problem is, MAP agreements aren’t a catch-all solution. Chances are, even if you have these agreements in place, you’re still fighting to keep prices on Amazon consistent. That’s because MAP enforcement software can’t solve all of your problems. Here’s why:
MAP Software Can’t Enforce Fair Pricing
Many companies rely on MAP enforcement software as the primary resource and tool to maintain fair pricing in the marketplace. However, the software is limited in its ability to achieve that goal, because three things must be in place in order for that MAP mission to succeed. You must have:
The identity of the seller
A distribution agreement in place
The capability (and commitment) to enforce that agreement
If you don’t know who the seller is, you can’t hold that seller accountable. If there is no agreement in place, there is no redress. If there is no consequence, a MAP agreement is meaningless. End of story.
You can get a little closer to enforcing MAP agreements by learning more about those who are committing violations.
Violators of MAP
There are four types of 3rd party sellers typically breaking your MAP standards:
Authorized distributors who ignorantly break MAP policy. This can be due to manufacturer repricing, promotions, or other sales-generating strategies. Sometimes simple lack of awareness by one individual setting a lower price can be the culprit.
Authorized distributors who defend price reductions as necessary to remain competitive. They will test a manufacturer’s resolve to take actions such as limiting supply, rescinding pricing considerations or other privileges extended to authorized distributors.
Authorized distributors with multiple maintained selling accounts, at least one of which is unknown to you. The specifically price your products on those accounts lower than MAP to drive volume of sales.
Unauthorized sellers with identities unknown that have not agreed to follow MAP policies because they are unaware, indifferent, or both.
Let’s “map” 4 seller types against the 3 requirements MAP enforcement must meet to succeed:
Ask yourself some questions about these violators. Which sellers are most likely driving the unfair pricing problem? Which sellers are the hardest to discover and change? The answer is obvious when you look at the chart, right?
MAP Software = Magnifying Frustration
A great thing about MAP software in general is the ability to track price listings against MAP with visually striking dashboards, built-in analytics and descriptive data. When underpricing occurs, you can identify it immediately and take action on the Blissfully Ignorant and Willful Competitors. In fact, restoring fair pricing can be as easy as making a phone call.
With the Multitasking Mass Sellers and Mysterious MAP Rogues, the software will be highlighting perpetual non-compliance in vivid color. It can feel like you are driving a car across a long stretch of empty highway with the engine light on. Try not to focus on the red light on the dashboard. Settle your stomach, cross your fingers and hope for a miracle.
Now let’s briefly touch on the behemoth roadblock that is Amazon and how they’re compliant in these MAP violations.
Amazon Won’t Enforce It For You
Amazon does not enforce distribution agreements. Period. And if there is the slightest hint of price, you will likely hear the words “anti-competitive behavior.”
Amazon is not your means to enforce MAP, so that’s all the time we’ll spend on that. Let’s shift focus to what we do have control over.
You CAN do something about MAP violators.
If a seller is practicing dishonest pricing, they are practicing dishonesty in other places. For example, Amazon’s rules that govern seller practices. Although Amazon doesn’t care about your distribution agreements. What they do care about is a consumer’s experience on Amazon’s marketplace the same way you care about a consumer’s experience with your brand.
The things that can blemish the consumer experience with the Amazon marketplace are:
Confusing product listings
Product bundles that shouldn’t exist
Shabby images and inaccurate descriptions
These are just a few examples of broken Amazon policies that are put in place to protect consumers, and those are critical because Amazon cares about them.
It’s like magic. When you clear the illegitimate resellers that are hurting your brand, fair pricing (MAP) is restored.
About the Author
About Trajan Trajan Bayly, CEO of Gray Falkon, is an award-winning innovator across multiple industries, including e-commerce, technology, health, and finance. As a 20-year business veteran and recognized expert in market strategy, innovation, and artificial intelligence (AI) technology, Trajan’s leadership experience spans a wide spectrum, from startup technology companies to large, global organizations like Ernst & Young and General Electric.