The just-released figures on e-commerce in the United States continue to show the popularity of online shopping. According to the Census Bureau, e-commerce retail sales in the U.S. for the second quarter of 2022 were an estimated $257 billion - an increase of nearly three percent from the first quarter of the year, and an even bigger increase of 6.8% from Q2 2021. Not too shabby, given an inflated economy.
While optimistic, these numbers are certainly not all that surprising given consumers continue to be seduced by the convenience, variety, and savings of online shopping. E-commerce made it easy. Amazon made it fast. Then COVID came along and made it critical. Millennials have immortalized it.
For manufacturers, online shopping has generally been a very positive and much-needed addition to their distribution channels. Certainly, it gives them yet another outlet to get their tangible goods into the hands of consumers; consumers who have made it clear that they want to simply hit complete purchase with those same hands. But while e-tailing has brought much revenue to producers, for manufacturers utilizing Minimum Advertising Pricing (MAP), it has also given rise to corrupted prices and, ultimately, a direct attack on brand perception.
As a manufacturer, each day you can find several violations of your important and brand-protective MAP policy at your fingertips. It's a tedious task, but a necessary one if you want to maintain the integrity of both your brand and your pricing policies. Amazon Marketplace alone provides a wealth of MAP violators as obscure storefronts peddle your goods with a mindset of "if I sell it cheaper, I'll win the sale." For every one of those wins, your brand takes the loss.
Countless studies in marketing, economics, and even psychology continue to prove that pricing is not just about covering costs and generating profit margin, but that it also has real behavioral influence on consumers. Customers of your brand correlate important things like quality, value, and even status to your pricing. When online sellers come along and turn your e-tail price into an unauthorized e-sale price, your brand's consumer perception suffers. For your products, it's unfortunately a surprisingly short distance from the figurative top shelf to the cheapened bargain table.
Manufacturers engaging in MAP policy have purposely put such pricing controls in place to ensure their brand doesn't decline in the minds of their ultimate consumers. But controls without monitoring is simply a wish list. It's not enough to spend your valuable time and resources on creating a MAP strategy without continuous monitoring of its enforcement. The bad news for manufacturers is they have to keep the marketplace honest. But there is good news, too. You don't have to do this alone and it doesn't have to be tedious nor complicated. Advances in MAP monitoring technology have made it simpler than ever.
Utilizing MAP monitoring software like MapCop is a highly effective way to ensure your pricing policies are being met. It's proven far more efficient than manual monitoring and has a much larger reach. It's also a proactive method unlike waiting to address MAP violators when they are reported to you by other channel members.
Perhaps best of all, just like e-commerce, MAP enforcement software never sleeps, and like all good insomniacs, it constantly scans the internet. In fact, monitoring programs like MapCop are relentless in their review of your brand's products online and in identifying e-tailers that are out of policy, promoting prices below your Minimum Advertised Pricing. If shopping online now takes a few simple clicks, shouldn't monitoring your MAP be just as easy?
Regardless of your monitoring methods, if you are a manufacturer utilizing MAP, it's time to take back control from pricing violators who are degrading your brand for a quick buck. Your e-tailing channel is an important piece of your distribution strategy, but it should be helping not hurting your valuable brand. Protect your brand and keep your distribution channel honest. Your customers will think better of you for it.