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MAP Monitoring: How to Monitor Retailer Pricing?

MAP Monitoring: How to Monitor Retailer Pricing?

What is MAP Monitoring?

MAP monitoring is when manufacturers and brands keep their eye on retailers’ and resellers’ prices, in order to ensure they’re abiding by their minimum advertised pricing (MAP) policy.

The MAP policy defines the brands’ lowest price their sellers are allowed to publicly display.

Manufacturers and brands have to continuously monitor individual retailer stores, marketplaces and price comparison sites. If a price dips below the authorized threshold, brands have to reach and communicate with the reseller to enforce the MAP policy.

MAP monitoring is important because it:

  • Insulates your brand identity from price erosion
  • Protects your profit margins
  • Establishes trust between you and your retail partners

The monitoring process is crucial. If the brand isn’t keeping on top of their resellers, then they can’t enforce their pricing policy when it’s being ignored, rendering it pointless.

This post will cover what map monitoring is, how it works, and how brands can get started monitoring retailer pricing.

MAP Monitoring: How Does it Work?

Real-time monitoring

To start, good retail partners respect your pricing policies because they care about their relationship with you and recognize that they benefit from your long-term success.

But not every seller is a good partner. Some will test whether you conduct MAP monitoring to see what they can get away with. Using software to program pricing changes – and slip temporary cuts under the radar – is not unusual.

That’s why MAP monitoring is not a periodic glance through the reseller landscape, or a one-and-done project. It’s continuous. Resellers change their prices constantly, so you have to constantly be on the lookout.

As such, manually tracking your prices, or using MAP monitoring tools that only checks online prices a couple times a week, isn’t sufficient.

Monitoring prices in realp-time allows brands to detect price changes immediately, rather than in a delayed manner, when damage to your brand and profit margins from price erosion may already be occurring.

Visualping is an example of a real-time monitoring tool that alerts brands of sellers’ price changes online, so they can continuously stay on top of any discounts and promotions that violate pricing policies.

Want to get set up with MAP monitoring?

Sign up with Visualping to stay on top of your MAP monitoring and track retailer pricing from any web page – before your brand is on the line.

STEP 1: Enter the URL you want to monitor
STEP 2: Enter your email address
Monitor retailer stores, marketplaces and price comparison sites

MAP monitoring calls for monitoring the prices of all the web pages to which your products appear – whether that be individual retailer websites, marketplaces or price comparison sites. It’s likely a mix of all three.

Monitoring the majority of your resellers increases your odds of detecting the price violation when it first happens. If you don’t, then sellers will probably notice this, and choose to ignore your MAP policy. And once retailers start ignoring your policy, others inevitably follow, in an effort to keep their prices competitive.

Once many resellers violate your pricing policy, it’s difficult to decipher, and hold accountable, the original culprit.

The resulting domino effect may also result in a pricing war: everyone starts lowering their prices lower and lower, until it becomes a race to the bottom in which your products are priced as low as the Marianas Trench, and nobody is making a profit.

That’s why your monitoring needs to be continuous, in real-time, and you need to monitor as many of your resellers as you can. The more gaps there are in your tracking, the easier it is for rogue sellers to slip through the cracks and undermine your pricing policy.

Periodically glancing through the reseller landscape may result in you scrambling to reach out to the many resellers who’ve since violated your pricing policy.

Instead, you want to catch it early and know who started it. Waiting passively for violations to pop up online increases your chances of price competitions, and the damage to your profit margins and reputation that follow suit.

Many brands use monitoring software tools to automatically keep an eye on resellers online. Instead of attempting to manually keep track of all your resellers, software tools automate the process of checking their prices, and alert you of changes, in real-time. Visualping is an example of a price monitoring tool that monitors online retailer prices and notifies you, right away, of changes.

Visualping crawls the web, and checks the web pages you’ve set it up to track. Once a price change occurs, Visualping detects it and automatically sends you an email, with a screenshot of the page, and the price change highlighted for you to see.

What are the Benefits of MAP Monitoring?

MAP monitoring brings an array of benefits to your brand. As well as lowering the likelihood of price violations in the future, MAP monitoring can serve as a way for you to repair the damage that’s already been inflicted to you and your sellers.

MAP monitoring protects your profit margins

MAP monitoring protects your profit margins because it helps keep your prices competitive, insulting your ability to sell your own product.

Often, resellers violating your MAP policy are just after a temporary advantage. They’ve got their eye on Amazon’s buy box, or they know other sellers offer a better product and they’re trying to cut ahead by dismembering the price.

If they’re selling out of their garage and they’re the only employee, they can afford to go much lower than retailers. Other sellers may respond by lowering the price in turn, but the original violator will just keep dropping the price, unto; nobody is making a profit selling your products.

It’s a race-to-the-bottom price war, and everyone loses – especially you. When paired with solid MAP enforcement, MAP monitoring protects your margins by keeping your prices where they’re supposed to be.

MAP monitoring insulates your brand identity

Price violations, accumulated together, over time, is bad news for your brand identity. Significantly low prices can indicate poorer quality products and services, degrading the customer perception of your brand.

And when consumers encounter varying prices of your product, depending on where they look online, you’re creating a brand experience that’s varied and inconsistent. Consumers come away from encountering your brand with different and conflicting understanding of your brand value.

Normalizing your prices with MAP monitoring helps consumers have a shared understanding of what your brand is worth, and ensures your prices accurately reflect its quality.

MAP monitoring builds trust with your sellers

Just like you don’t want a price war, neither do your sellers. Your best partners are making the effort to follow your price policies, so it’s frustrating to them when their competitors are violating your price policies and getting away with it.

A price war also threatens their own margins. And if you aren’t willing to put in the work to monitor and enforce your MAP policy, they may not be willing to continue putting in the effort to sell your product and deal with less scrupulous sellers.

MAP monitoring keeps sellers in line over time

Properly enforced MAP monitoring, over time, signals to sellers that you take your policies seriously, and will know when they’re violated. Sellers will be less willing to mess with your prices because they know that the consequences aren’t worth the temporary advantage it provides.

MAP Monitoring is Difficult – When You’re Doing it Manually

Even with just a handful of products and sellers to keep track of, manually trying to stay on top of your resellers is next to impossible. Violations can slip in between the cracks easily.

If one seller violated your policy and the others followed suit to stay competitive, would you have any way of knowing who moved first? And, if it happened on different pages, are you monitoring enough different sites to detect the origin of the ripple effect?

Even if you only focused on your most important SKUs, most brands would find manual MAP monitoring too difficult to keep up with. A human simply can’t watch enough places at the same time. Your company’s money could be much better spent paying this person to solve creative analytical problems, rather than fill the seat a robot could just fill, and do a much better job at – and at scale.

A seller can still violate your policy when your employees are off the clock. Humans are also bound to make errors, such as overlooking a change.

Automating the MAP monitoring process

MAP monitoring tools like Visualping are built for this job. Visualping is a website change detection tool that automatically checks web pages for changes, comparing each check to the last for any differences.

Many website change monitoring and detection tools are only equipped to check web pages periodically. Or, they can only track a limited number of pages. Visualping can check your web pages as frequently as every 5 minutes, and can monitor hundreds of thousands of web pages across an unlimited number of online stores and marketplaces.

Any time Visualping detects a pricing change, it sends you an email alert. Every pricing change is displayed in your user dashboard, where you can view all the alerts in one spot, and draw upon previous alerts, too. You can assess changes and violations over time, as well as violations associated with particular sellers or products. With the screenshot feature, you also have proof of the violation, if necessary.

How to Monitor Retailer Pricing: Visualping

To get started with a MAP monitoring tool that will alert you as soon as price changes amongst your resellers occur, simply navigate to Visualping’s homepage, and copy and paste the URL of the page you want to track.

Next, you customize your monitoring settings, such as the part of the page you want monitored, how often you want the page checked, and the email address you want the alerts sent to.

And you’re done!

Step-by-step instructions on how to get set up with MAP tracking:

Step 1: Search your page. Copy and paste the product URL you want to monitor into the search field on Visualping’s homepage. Click Go.

Step 2: Once the page appears in the viewport, select the part of the page you want monitored. For tracking products, this is the part of the page surrounding the price.

Step 3: Specify the frequency you want the page checked – every 5 minutes, 30 minutes, hourly, daily, etc.

Step 4: Type the email address you want the alerts sent to. Click Start Monitoring, and that’s it! You’re set to get notified of deals.

Step 5: Visualping will send you an email, asking you to make a password for your account. Don’t forget to do this. The password completes your account, and allows you to login to your user-dashboard, where you can view all your Visualping monitors and email alerts in one location.

Perform these steps as many times as you wish to monitor many resellers at one time, and create a watch list.

Visualping takes automatic screenshots of the page at regular intervals – every 5 minutes, 30 minutes, hourly, daily, etc – and compares each image to the last to check for changes.

Level up your MAP monitoring capabilities

MAP monitoring is critical to your long-term success as an ecommerce brand. Protecting your price doesn’t just benefit you. It serves your customers and your sellers, too.

Visualping is an easy-to-use website monitoring tool that can track price changes, in real-time, amongst your resellers for you. The user dashboard makes it easy to view pierce change alerts all in one spot, and to go back and view changes over time to detect any patterns and associations.

With Visualping, MAP monitoring is made much more manageable.

Get a demo to see Visualping in action.

Happy MAP monitoring!

Want to be sure a web page is always compliant?

Sign up with Visualping to detect issues from any web page – before your business is on the line.

Want to be sure a web page is always compliant?

Start Monitoring Now (It's Free)

Want to be sure a web page is always compliant?

Sign up with Visualping to detect issues from any web page – before your business is on the line.

Start Monitoring Now (It's Free)

Emily Fenton

Emily is the Content Marketing Manager at Visualping. She has a degree in English Literature and a Masters in Management. When she’s not researching and writing about all things Visualping, she loves exploring new restaurants, playing guitar and petting her cats.