How can you enforce MAP pricing on Amazon? This is a question asked by countless brands and manufacturers, and it’s a good one. Marketplaces like Amazon are few and far between, and the sheer number of sellers, aggressive pricing tactics by Amazon itself, and consumer traffic make it both the best and the hardest place to sell.
This is especially apparent in MAP pricing. Minimum advertised price, or MAP, policies are non-binding agreements between a manufacturer and its authorized retail partners to only list a product or products at or above a minimum price. It’s great for protecting a brand’s price position and margins while preventing other resellers from undercutting sales based on price.
Amazon and MAP Pricing
The nature of Amazon is high-competition and aggressive pricing, given Amazon’s willingness to be the lowest price on the internet. This drives other sellers to price low as well. All it takes is one reseller to price below MAP for all others to follow suit.
It’s crucial that you are continually monitoring for MAP violations on Amazon. However, identifying MAP violations is easier when compared to the next step: enforcing MAP.
Will Amazon Enforce MAP Policies?
Unfortunately, no. Amazon doesn’t take a hard stance against resellers who violate your MAP policies. In fact, if Amazon fulfills your brand or sells a competing product, they’re likely dropping prices as well. As a result, there are few direct ways that Amazon will support your brand in your MAP enforcement efforts.
What Can Brands Do to Enforce MAP on Amazon?
The good news is that you can do a lot to enforce MAP pricing on Amazon. Here are a few steps that you can take today:
1. Identify Seller Information
Spotting a MAP violation is different than identifying the seller information. As you know, the seller name on Amazon may not be the most accurate bit of information. Start with a Google search, assuming you can’t quickly identify the seller’s actual identity. Search the seller’s name and see if you can track down a website or a listing on another marketplace. If that doesn’t work, buy your product from them. The shipping information may provide more clues. If you use product serialization you can track that product back through its distribution channel. If all else fails, you can partner with a third-party seller investigation service to dive deeper.
2. Communicate Violations
Amazon won’t do much to directly enforce your MAP pricing, but you can. Directly communicate the violation clearly—and with evidence—to any Amazon seller. Then follow these steps for authorized Amazon resellers who violate MAP:
- Issue a warning (or warnings)
- Place a hold on distribution
- Reduce your assortment with the violator
- Revoke authorized seller status
How quickly you move through those steps is up to you and the number of MAP violations per reseller, but it all starts with clear communication of the MAP violation.
Brands must create effective MAP policies and enforce them consistently and fairly across all channels.
3. Register Your Brand
Of course, tactics that work for authorized resellers are far less effective for counterfeiters or unauthorized sellers. This is where the Amazon Brand Registry can help. Brands who register have access to Amazon resources that can protect trademarks and support consistent product descriptions and images across all Amazon sellers of your brand.
The Amazon Brand Registry isn’t specifically designed for MAP enforcement, but it can help. Counterfeiters and unauthorized sellers are more likely than your authorized partners to alter your product descriptions or your trademarks. With the registry, you have more Amazon tools to spot these changes and flag them with the marketplace. Registered brands have more leverage when reporting issues to Amazon than non-registered brands.
4. Sell Direct-to-Consumer
If all else fails, you may want to consider selling direct-to-consumer on Amazon. If you’re having chronic problems with third-party sellers on Amazon violating MAP and degrading your brand then It may be time to take advantage of D2C selling. On the plus side, you’ll have total control over your pricing and messaging on Amazon. Without third-party sellers, you’re the only source for information on your brand, including pricing.
Take Charge of Your MAP Pricing
Amazon can be your friend and your enemy. Thankfully, you have plenty of options to take charge of your pricing in this marketplace.
Above all, brands must create effective MAP policies and enforce them consistently and fairly across all channels. Many of the tactics outlined here can work outside of Amazon as well, whether you sell on Walmart, eBay, authorized sellers’ webstores, or elsewhere. The important bit to remember is that your prices are your brand, so give them as much love and consideration as you would your logo, your website, or any other branded element.