The days of retailers working on their own are long gone. Now, companies work with a range of different sellers – both online and off – to expand the reach of their brands and grow their customer base. In addition to flagship stores and websites, many retailers seek to ensure that shoppers have as many purchasing options as possible, including on social and seller networks. However, managing this seller chain is usually easier said than done. It's important to help guarantee that customers get the same top-notch experience no matter how they choose to buy, and that one seller isn't undercutting the business being brought in by another entity.
But how can you best support your seller network? Let's take a look at a few crucial best practices to support your brand's success with its seller chain:
Company messaging and branding
First and foremost, it's essential that customers have the same view and impression of the brand whether they purchase merchandise in a department store, on the company's own website or via other online platforms like Amazon. Retail expert Tim Potter noted that it can be helpful to educate a store's staff about the business's products and brand, and the same is true for online sellers.
"Unified messaging, brand visuals and other materials help provide a consistent company appearance with all sellers."
Unified messaging, brand visuals and other materials help provide a consistent company appearance with all sellers. Ensuring that the same language, logos and other branding appears in brick-and-mortar displays as well as online provides a premium image for the company.
Open communication and support for collaboration
Once branding information has been laid on the table, it's important to maintain a strong relationship with all the sellers in the company's chain. A crucial part of this includes ensuring that there are open lines of communication available to support collaboration among manufacturers, retailers and other sellers.
In addition to providing opportunities to communicate consistently, it's also imperative that sellers and retailers work to support the best interests of all parties involved. As Joy Peters, A.T. Kearney Consumer and Retailer Practice partner, pointed out, ensuring the right level of trust has been a historic issue for retailers and sellers in the past.
"The retailer-supplier relationship has long struggled with distrust stemming from both parties acting in vigorous self-interest," Peters told Retail TouchPoints. "More readily available price transparency across retail, prevalence of product exclusives and retailers focus on store brands all have continued to stoke concerns by retailers that 'someone else is getting a better deal' and, conversely, for manufacturers to lament 'some other brands (or private label) are favored by the retailer.'"
Creating and enforcing a robust MAP policy
One of the best ways to address issues of this kind is to establish and enforce a detailed minimum advertised pricing policy among all sellers. This helps prevent the appearance of favoritism and ensures that the brand maintains a premium point of view with customers.
Experts recommend using a custom MAP policy that supports the activities and interests of the brand as well as its seller chain. A fill-in-the-blank style policy isn't usually successful and can create complications when it comes to enforcement.
In addition to ensuring consistent merchandise pricing, it's also essential that retailers are able to enforce the brand's MAP with every seller partner. This can be difficult, especially without the right visibility in place.
This is where a service like PriceSpider's MAP Guard becomes so beneficial. MAP Guard continually monitors pricing with all sellers and notifies retailers of any unapproved price changes. In this way, internal staff need not worry about manually checking prices, and all violations – from initial pricing adjustments to subsequent violations – can be nipped in the bud.
To find out more about MAP Guard, check out our website and contact PriceSpider today.