MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) monitoring is the process of using automation software to find out whether retailers are following the guidelines established by the manufacturer. MAP violations can negatively affect the brand value by changing the perception of the consumer.
By not following the suggested MAP price, ecommerce and retail vendors can make the manufacturer seem like a cheap brand that produces low quality products. Since nowadays there are so many retail and ecommerce stores, manually performing MAP monitoring is nearly impossible.
What is MAP?
Minimum advertised price defines the lowest possible price at which a product can be sold. Manufacturers in some countries can set the minimum advertised price in contracts they have with vendors. Not following MAP might have some negative consequences to both parties.
There are many arguments for why minimum advertised pricing should be implemented. One of them is based on company perception - some brands produce high-quality products that are known to sport a hefty price tag. Retailers selling below the MAP price could change that perception, which would put each company at odds with each other.
Another argument stems from fairness. A minimum advertised price ensures that retailers cannot compete with each other without having some standardized bottom ground. As such, it makes all of the prices across the market more equal.
Why do e-commerce suppliers need MAP monitoring?
MAP monitoring performs several goals all at once. By keeping track of all the prices across the market, suppliers can ensure fair competition and brand reputation. Additionally, it provides suppliers with more power over the entire value chain.
Other reasons to include MAP monitoring may include:
- Fair competition across all distribution channels
- Protection of margins
- Control of the pricing
- Prevention of underpricing
- Allowing smaller companies to compete
In the end, price monitoring tools allow companies to ensure that the agreements they have signed are being held up by both parties. There are a lot of pressures on ecommerce and retail vendors that might cause them to violate MAP, so keeping tabs on pricing data is essential.
How to monitor MAP?
MAP monitoring is performed through web scraping tools that allow users to automatically collect data from online sources. These can also be called price monitoring tools as they essentially perform the same task.
Price monitoring solutions are usually bots that automatically go through some URLs and download the data stored within. In these cases, the scripts run through ecommerce store product pages to collect all the price data available.
Whenever web scraping is employed, proxies become a necessity. Even if a supplier has just cause to do monitoring for brand reputation protection purposes, most websites will have automatic anti-automation software systems in place. Since the website cannot know beforehand that it’s the supplier, they will often ban the offending IP address.
Residential proxies are most often used to circumvent these issues. They allow users to connect to websites and servers through them and forward all requests on their behalf. Proxies then return the acquired data back to the user while only revealing its own IP address.
As such, any IP ban is made worthless through the use of proxies. A user can keep switching IPs whenever they get banned to completely avoid any infraction.
Automated MAP monitoring tools will often include proxies either by default or allow users to integrate them easily. Running both of these tools in combination will allow businesses to collect enough pricing information on a continuous basis from as many retailers as necessary.
That data would then be stored either in some cloud solution or locally and prepared for analysis. A violation of MAP would be easy to notice as even the simplest data analysis software would be able to create filters. All it takes is to filter out all product prices below MAP to see if there had been any violations.
Finally, with such data, manufacturers would be able to issue warnings to retailers who might not be following the minimum advertised price policy. As a result, having retailers follow contractual obligations is made much easier through the use of MAP monitoring software.
Minimum advertised price monitoring might not be the most popular web scraping use case, however, it’s one of the most important ones for manufacturers. Due to the proliferation of ecommerce and retail vendors online, manually following each of them to see if they are following MAP is nearly impossible.
Luckily, nowadays there are plenty of web scraping solutions that can double as price monitoring software. With these tools, performing MAP monitoring automatically becomes a breeze as long as the provider can handle the volume of data extraction.