July '20

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92 • RV PRO • July 2020 rv-pro.com "The low prices we were seeing online cheapened our products," he explains. "There were times when it was extremely low, and many times the consumer asso- ciates the value with the price that's paid. It just didn't match up with the quality we were trying to represent in the marketplace." Doug Northcutt, sales manager of the RV and trailer components division of Boyden, Iowa-based Demco Products, echoes Enfield's sentiments. "Our product is installation-driven, and we felt the consumer would have a better experience if they weren't buying on price, but were buying on value," he says. "We want them to buy from someone who can professionally install it." One final reason: "We watched some of our competitors be successful in instituting MAP programs," says Later. MAPping the Way As for the policy itself, minimum adver- tised price is exactly what it sounds like. "The minimum advertised price basi- cally means a retailer can sell a product for whatever he wants to, but he can't advertise it for less than the amount specified by the supplier," Northcutt says. However, he's quick to add online retailers can find ways to sell for less, such as saying a price is too low to advertise or advising potential customers that a would-be buyer must cart an item before seeing the price. That's the reason Demco went with MAP's closely related cousin: minimum retail price, or MRP. "We wanted to be fair to both our brick-and-mortar customers and our online retailers, so we tried to find a balance," Northcutt says. "That's why we liked the MRP; they can't advertise it or sell it for less than our minimum retail price." With both MAP and MRP, the main components are establishing a policy and then having someone to monitor what people are charging, as well as a commit- ment to enforce it. Every company's expe- rience is slightly different. Timbren's Betournay says that com- pany did all the work internally in setting up its policy. "We did our research," he says. "It was long and tedious, but we got together with our other groups within the building to figure out a way that we could track our programs and we checked to see what some of the major consumer products people were using as verbiage, and we used a lot of the same wording." As it is, he estimates it took about a year before the company was ready to send retailers a letter explaining what it was doing and why, as well as the guidelines for the new policy. It also included an agreement the retailers were asked to sign. "That way, everybody knew what we were doing," Betournay says. "We told our distributors and we went online and found addresses for the people selling our product online and got them hooked up with the letter." PullRite is another company that did its own research. In that company's case, Later says it took from some time in 2014 until September 2019 to implement. However, he says the company had one special con- cern that needed resolution. "We knew the problem was being caused by what we refer to as e-tailers," Later explains. "Rather saying, 'OK, all you dealers who have supported us so long, we're going to subject you to the same policy,' I didn't think that was fair, so I talked with a lot of different resources about it." Ultimately, he says it was a member of senior management for one of the com- pany's biggest distributors who suggested PullRite take on the offenders directly. The result was a policy that requires e-tailers who don't have installation capabilities or who rely on wholesale distributors to dropship PullRite products to register with the company. Northcutt says Demco also was in the throes of doing its own research on the matter when the company happened to acquire a business that already had an MRP in place. "We worked with their legal team that they had put together and just made it our own," he says. MORryde came from a different direc- tion, but ended up in much the same "The low prices we were seeing online cheapened our products. There were times when it was extremely low, and many times the consumer associates the value with the price that's paid. It just didn't match up with the quality we were trying to represent in the marketplace," Jack Enfield, sales and marketing manager for Elkhart, Ind.-based MORryde International, says of his company's decision to enforce MAP.

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