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How to Protect Your Brand Reputation Across Unified Commerce

What is brand reputation? It is everything. Reputation is how everyone views your brand, shoppers, partners, and competitors alike. Reputation is how much trust is placed in your brand. It is how people feel when they buy your brand. How they feel when they see your brand on shelves and online marketplaces.  

You know that a positive brand reputation can lead to increased revenue, and a negative reputation can result in the opposite. What you may be struggling with is how to protect your brand reputation, especially in today’s retail environment. 

Your brand is now represented on many channels. It can be found online and in-store, perhaps on Amazon and Walmart, from coast to coast or across the world. You may have to balance protecting your brand online and in-store, growing national or global sales, and doing so affordably and effectively.  

That’s no small feat. Let’s work together to protect your brand reputation across all channels. 

Enforce your MAP Policies 

Minimum advertised prices, or MAP policies, are a crucial tool in protecting your brand. This rule sets a price floor for all your sellers. They shouldn’t sell below MAP, but they can sell at a price higher than MAP. 

This not only safeguards your margins, but also protects your brand’s reputation. Too-low prices can be perceived as cheap, low quality, or uncompetitive in the market. A price drastically below your typical threshold could also confuse shoppers or lead them to believe the product is inauthentic. Through MAP policies, you can also maintain relationships with retailers you want to partner with—sellers who align with your brand’s mission. That minimum price may be too high for a retailer you don’t want to be associated with, anyway.  

A study conducted by doctoral students at Northwestern University found that 53 percent of unauthorized sellers violated MAP compared to just 15 percent of authorized sellers. Enforce your MAP policies by monitoring for violators, then contacting the seller to remind them of the MAP. You should consider terminating your agreements with any repeat violators to increase MAP compliance. 

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Prevent Unauthorized Sellers 

Unauthorized sellers can be a legitimate concern regarding brand reputation. They come in several forms, from counterfeiters to known retailers who may not be authorized to sell on a certain marketplace. It’s sellers like this latter group that pose a significant threat to your brand reputation, but all unauthorized sellers are problematic. 

Why? These sellers can undercut your pricing strategies, creating a perception that your products are cheap. They can sell your products on webstores and marketplaces that you do not want to be sold on. Or, they could be selling counterfeit goods that are far from your actual quality, tricking consumers in the process. 

Pricing below MAP can be one indicator of an unauthorized seller. After all, unauthorized sellers are likely to be unaware of your MAP policies or simply not interested in following them. Once identified, you can send cease-and-desist letters, reach out to the seller directly, or file a complaint with the marketplace. Amazon also offers a brand registry to simplify reporting unauthorized sellers. 

Ensure In-Store Compliance 

MAP and unauthorized sellers are common challenges for eCommerce brands. However, most brands today are sold online and in-store. This unified commerce approach means that in-store compliance is another important factor behind a strong brand reputation.  

In-store compliance takes several forms. It can be planogram compliance, so your products are organized on shelves in a thoughtful, pre-planned manner. It could be display compliance, so your products are displayed with all required elements like accompanying videos or cases. Or, it could just be no out-of-stock products and store associates who can speak intelligently about your brand. 

Mystery shoppers provide an added layer of visibility into brick-and-mortar retailers.

One solution for in-store compliance is mystery shoppers. Many brands rely on their own teams to monitor stores, such as field reps. Mystery shoppers provide an added layer of visibility. Wiser’s network of mystery shoppers can reach more stores in a shorter amount of time than in-house teams. They can share feedback on all elements of in-store compliance, from displays to store associates. The data is then validated and shared. 

These insights give you more leverage over brick-and-mortar retailers to enforce compliance. This will help you present a seamless, consistent in-store presence alongside online.  

Emphasize Multi-Channel Brand Protection 

Your brand is—and should be—everywhere, online and in-store. Therefore, you must protect your brand’s reputation across all channels. It only takes one bad experience to turn a customer off.  

Whether it’s MAP monitoring, in-store merchandising, pricing, and more, Wiser is here to help. Don’t hesitate to connect with us if you have any questions about how to protect your brand’s reputation.

Matt Ellsworth

Matt is the Content Marketing Manager at Wiser, the leading provider of actionable data for better decisions. He holds a BA from Salem State University.

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