When it comes to delivering a superior customer experience, the seller holds all the cards. It is critical that the reseller, merchant, brand has the ability to follow through and support the consumer both pre and post sale. Once a consumer decides on what they’re purchasing, whom they purchase it from ultimately has the biggest impact on their experience with the brand.
First, consumers expect to be able to easily find the product they are looking for, get their questions answered about the product and, once it’s purchased, the ability to be able to return the product or get a refund. Mastering these fundamentals are the keys to delivering a frictionless, delightful, buying experience and reflects on the brand and seller.
While this scenario seems obvious, it’s not a given, nor is it the standard experience. While the internet has empowered consumers and provided many positive experiences, it has also resulted in the loss of control for brands and sellers and when not properly managed, it can have detrimental impact on a brand’s image with consumers. For example, if a product is being sold through an unauthorized seller or at a price that is below the authorized price, it typically impacts the seller’s ability to support the consumer.
To maintain peace in the ecommerce world and ensure brands have the margin necessary to best support customers, it is paramount that manufacturers ensure that only authorized sellers are selling these products and that they are doing so at the product’s minimum advertised price.
When a manufacturer supports their resellers in monitoring and enforcing their online prices, the consumer experience can be preserved. With price parity, the consumer actually wins. The consumer gets to buy from the seller that provides the best support throughout the process and the seller can maintain the price and know that the brand is enforcing their online price policies. It ensures everyone in the space can optimize their role – everything from marketing to supply chain, customer support and logistics.
The brand benefits from MAP enforcement because the product is only sold and supported by authorized sellers, it’s not over-distributed by unauthorized sellers, the consumer is not getting confused by seeing different prices for the same product and they are supporting their retailers, as they can properly market and promote the product so the consumer can find it. This consistency helps the integrity of the overall brand and reinforces the commitment to support the brands retailers. In the end, maintaining fair pricing means better customer service and a better overall experience for both manufacturers and consumers.
So here’s what merchants need to keep in mind when it comes to preserving the consumer experience, while preserving pricing policies:
- Certified sales only: Only sell products you’re authorized to sell – if there’s a problem with the product, the manufacturer likely won’t honor the warranty if you’re not supposed to be selling it.
- MAP It: Follow the Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) – remember that it is a critical component, because it provides merchants with the margin needed to train staff and fund proper marketing efforts.
- Seek the MAP manufacturer: Only work with manufacturer that actively monitor and enforce MAP – this will help eliminate the cycles often spent on having to report undercut prices, not to mention the lost sales due to price gouging by non-authorized sellers.
- Rethink your competitive edge: As we mentioned above, don’t compete on price, get ahead of the competition by providing a better experience for your customers, including superior service and support. A lower price should not be why/how you’re standing out in the crowd.
Pamela Springer is CEO of ORIS Intelligence