The Ultimate Guide to MAP Enforcement on Amazon

MAP enforcement is critical to protecting a brand's integrity, especially in a competitive environment like Amazon.

Andrew Quintrell
Andrew Quintrell

According to FeedbackExpress statistics, there are over five million resellers on Amazon alone. Such a large number of retailers could affect a brand's integrity on the entire marketplace, especially when it comes to adhering to minimum advertised price (MAP) policies.

Products that are advertised and sold at lower rates than stated in a brands’ MAP policy agreement, create brand deterioration which diminishes value and is harmful for every business along the supply chain. Every brand selling into the Amazon marketplace should consider a comprehensive MAP enforcement policy to protect their reputations and bottom lines.

What is MAP enforcement?

MAP pricing or a minimum advertised price is a condition that illustrates the absolute lowest price at which retailers can advertise your products in their physical or online stores.

According to the antitrust statutes, the MAP pricing policy is completely legal in any form of marketplace, and MAP enforcement technology can be used to monitor prices electronically and uncover violations automatically.

Monitoring your MAP policy constantly and thwarting all the MAP violations are the two basic steps in enforcing your MAP policy. Keep in mind that detecting the MAP policy violations alone is a meaningless process if a comprehensive enforcement activity does not back it.

For brands, manufacturers, and wholesalers, MAP monitoring and enforcement is the process of managing all the communication with retailers and dealing with policy violators when they happen.

How do MAP policies affect brands?

MAP agreements exist to protect brands and manufacturers. A MAP agreement helps businesses sell their products and compete on the actual value of products and services and also offers the following benefits:

  1. Maintains brand identity and value: It standardizes the prices of products to maintain the unique identity and reputation
  2. Promotes fair competition across all distribution channels: All the retailers will have to compete on behalf of their services and value.
  3. Allows smaller sellers to compete with larger retailers: Big players can sell more by keeping the negligible margins. A MAP agreement provides a fair ground for businesses of all sizes to compete with one another.
  4. Prevents underpricing: As MAP policy dictates a minimum advertised price, it prevents the retailers from going any lower than the specified price.
  5. Protects seller margins: All the sellers will showcase your products at the same prices, which you carefully select to incorporate with the right profit margins.

Will Amazon enforce MAP policies?

No, they won’t. It’s important to seek separate MAP monitoring because:

  1. Amazon does not enforce a brand's MAP policy, and it also refuses to do MAP policing
  2. Amazon capitalizes on the free market nature of their marketplace and the competitive prices it provides to customers

Plus, since there are ways to avoid disclosing the true identities of Amazon resellers, it becomes very difficult to hold retailers accountable for violating the MAP policy behind your products.

Instead of relying on Amazon, brands can use third-party solutions like MapAuthority that automatically prevent MAP violations and can begin the MAP enforcement process.

How brands and manufacturers can enforce MAP policies on Amazon

There are some key factors that you have to follow to enforce your MAP policy on Amazon. A successful MAP pricing policy protection program includes the following actions:

  1. Identify all the detailed information about your retail buyers and key distributors
  2. Send a cease and desist letter to your retailers to address or communicate violations
  3. Get your brand registered in the Amazon brand registry
  4. Prevent digital Amazon sales in your contract
  5. Offer warranty on your products and sell directly to customers by bypassing resellers and retailers who compete with you on Amazon
  6. Solidify your distribution channels
  7. Use product serialization
  8. Communicate MAP enforcement plans with key retailer partners
  9. Deploy a MAP policy enforcement system like MapAuthority, which is one of the best solutions for enforcing MAP pricing policy

If your distribution base is spread widely, no matter how solid it is, tracking all the retailers and enforcing your MAP policy will become overwhelming. It could also render your MAP agreement useless. You have to utilize well-designed software, especially if you're using Amazon as your selling platform.

What do resellers and retailers think about MAP agreements?

Eddie Lichstein, the co-founder of renowned eCommerce platforms THMotorSports and Autoplicity, shared his thoughts on MAP policy, saying it’s like a partnership between retailers and manufacturers that makes them allies rather than adversaries. He added that if there is no MAP policy, both brands and retailers quickly experience erosion in their revenue.

Generally, retailers will have different perspectives about MAP policies based on their market position and goals:

Retailers who want to win Amazon’s Buy Box

These retailers are in competition for the lowest rates. They ignore MAP pricing agreements while racing for the lowest possible price and often go even lower than the minimum advertised price agreement. Retailers like this do not like the MAP agreements at all, so be careful when selecting your retailers to filter them out.

Retailers who are unsure about MAP

Some retailers are doubtful whether all other retailers will abide by the MAP policy or not. This inconsistency in the market creates unfair advantages for retailers who don’t adhere in terms of margin, but also can create disadvantages for MAP adopters in terms of sales volume. A consistent adoption of MAP policies will even the playing field for all resellers.

Retailers who like MAP agreements

You will also find the retailers like Eddie Lichstein talking about MAP agreements passionately because they understand the depth of the subject. That's why they embrace MAP policy as it provides a higher margin and creates a level playing field. These are typically stronger and the ideal partners that are professional Amazon retailers, or they specialize in that brand's industry.

Retailers who are part of a selective distribution model

MAP policies and agreements are more attractive to those retailers who are a part of a limited or selective distribution model. It is where you should enforce a MAP policy for your brand. You also have to make sure that you only allow a specific group of authorized retailers to sell on Amazon to keep the whole process seamless and well managed.

What can a brand do if retailers don’t adhere to MAP policies?

MAP policy-violating retailers can cost you time, energy, and money. In order to keep the counteracting process simple and effective, use the following steps:

1. Warning message

If you find any of your Amazon retailers violating the MAP pricing policy, keep things simple at the initial stage by sending a warning message advising them of the breach.

2. Keep observing

You have to stay consistent and vigilant because violators will try to find the loopholes in your MAP policy to exploit. After the initial warning, keep an observing eye on the violating resellers.

3. Encourage the compliant retailers

If your initial warning message works, then kudos. Send a genuine thank you message to any violating retailer who becomes a compliant one.

4. Send second and final notice

Give a final warning if any of your retailers persistently violates your MAP policy even after the first warning.

5. Remove violating clients

There are no strings attached, and you can easily remove the non-compliant retailers. You can stop shipping, selling, and accepting new orders from such retailers.

6. Flood your MAP violation policy across distribution channels

Let all of your retailers know how you deal with your MAP policy violation and how you counteract the non-compliant retailers.

Wrap Up

For manufacturers and brand owners, MAP pricing policy is critical to protecting brand integrity, especially in a competitive environment like Amazon. If you are looking for a MAP enforcement solution, we invite you to take a demo of our software.

MapAuthority is the only software solution that enforces the MAP policies of your brand with all your Amazon retailers. All you need to do is to create an agreement and send it to your Amazon retailers to begin the process. Once the agreement is in place and MapAuthority begins monitoring, prices will remain at or above each product’s MAP.

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