Solutions for... : Distributors

Price monitoring for distributors (how to stand in between, but not get caught in the cross-fire)

Delicate market positioning usually means that distributors are expected to protect market value of the brands they are representing, while at the same time they should stimulate retail sites to increase their turnover.

As we know, protecting the market value of a brand often means making sure that pricing recommendations given by brands are taken into account. This brings us to a thin line, because in most countries price fixing is against the law. However, we're not talking about raw price fixing here: instead - we're talking of gathering pricing data, its profound analysis and as a result - establishing appropriate business relationships with various market players, based on how fair they play the market game. Additionally, they find it very important to monitor stock changes on the market, particularly products going out of stock as they see this as a sign that their sales people have a lot of homework.

If your company is a distributor, and finds itself in this delicate situation, here is what Price2Spy can do to help:

  • Help you identify who your main online retailers are, see their differences in assortment and market positioning;
  • Alert you when your retailers run out of stock, which means that maybe you can promote these products more actively if you still sell them;
  • Alert you when your retailers change your product price;
  • Understand their pricing strategies - who wants to have the lowest price on the market (no matter the cost), or who's using more subtle methods (for example - relying on professional expertise);
  • Analyze and understand which retailer (and exactly when!) started pricing chain-reaction (that was followed by other sites);
  • Compare your prices to prices of similar models offered by competitor brands;
  • Indicate MAP / MSRP pricing violations, which will be easy to spot and document

The road to efficient market control

It's not just about raw pricing data we collect for you. There's so much more than that - Price2Spy aims to be an integral part of your organization when it comes to ensuring that your brand's market pricing stays consistent.

In order to do so, we need to carefully consider the following questions:

  • Which sites to monitor?

    • Some of our clients go for the broadest possible range (trying to monitor every single retailer on the market). This may be very difficult to achieve, especially with ever-growing number of emerging retail sites.
    • Others focus just on a few key market players - known to be market leaders. Since others are following such leaders, no need to follow small players.
    • Hybrid scenarios are possible as well - monitoring broad for certain brands / staying focused on key sites for others
    • Do we monitor just sites from certain market / country, or do we go international? (this usually depends on distributor's market coverage)
    • Do we monitor individual competitor sites, or do we go for Marketplaces (Amazon / Ebay etc)? And how about monitoring prices on price-comparison sites (like GoogleShopping or Idealo.de)?

  • How many products to monitor?

    • Do we go for the whole product range? Yes, this is an ultimate solution, but potentially means significant costs
    • Or, shall we stay focused on key products for each category / brand, and introduce new ones only after they achieve significant market share?

  • Product matching - how will you match your products against your competitors?

    • Since it comes as a part of your account setup, this is a very important decision, which heavily depends on the quality of the data you can provide and the nature of your industry
    • In essence, the following methods can be considered

      • Automated (we call this Automatch)

        • applicable if your products have unique identifiers (EAN, MPN), which can be searched on competitor sites. Most brands / manufacturers can provide such product details - however, not all retail sites use these when displaying product data.
        • this method is cost effective in case of many products (1000 and more) to be monitored on not that many sites

      • Manual - always applicable

        • can be done by your team, or by us (as an additional one-off service)
        • advisable for a smaller number of products (less than 1000) to be monitored on broad range of sites

  • How often to perform price checks

    • In most cases once per day is good enough. Or, in industries where price changes to do not happen that often once per week is also an option
    • However, there are extremely competitive industries (like music industry, or consumer electronics, for example), with dynamic pricing in place, where several price checks per day is a must (Price2Spy can perform up to 8 price checks per day)

  • How to use stock changes to your advantage

    • Price2Spy will alert you each time your retailers run out of stock for a product
    • Basically, you can use these alerts as suggestions to promote these products and offer them to retailers in a more proactive way

  • Detecting MAP (Minimal Advertising Price) violations

    • Price2Spy helps you detect and document such violation cases.
    • Make sure your retailers know that you have reliable way of monitoring their pricing policies. Better safe then sorry!

  • What if retailers do not want their prices to be monitored

    • In certain industries (most often in music industry) we encounter sites which do their best to prevent tools like Price2Spy access their prices. What they typically do is engage significant technical resources to block our traffic
    • Price2Spy is very experienced with such problems, as we solve them on a daily basis. We have mastered a number of techniques to avoid such bans
    • When no standard avoiding techniques work, we go for Stealth IP traffic

  • Splitting the load

    • In large organizations, different people / departments are in charge of different sets of products / brands
    • Therefore, we need to carefully analyze if whole team will receive all pricing alerts and reports, or we're going to split the load?
    • Splitting can be done either per product category, brand, supplier, or country (or group of countries)

  • Multi-currency

    • In certain cases our clients want to see original prices, in currencies shown on individual retail sites
    • However, for comparison purposes it often makes sense to apply exchange rate and show all prices in same currency
    • Price2Spy supports both methods, it's up to you choose what suits you best

Price2Spy in your day-to-day pricing operations

With so many available features, it can get hard to make the most of Price2Spy. On the other hand, Price2Spy is built in a modular way, so each client can define their procedures which suit their needs.

Here are some main suggestions, based on experience of nearly 50 distributor companies that use Price2Spy to keep an eye on their markets:

  • Use price change alert emails for quick insights. Make sure you react fast, especially when it comes to MAP violations! Make sure your retailers know that you're monitoring their sites 24/7.
  • However, if you're dealing with 10 000s of SKUs relying on email alerts may get inefficient - you might want to consider a different approach;
  • Define automated Price Matrix report, to be delivered in your mailbox at the time of your choice. Consider having full Price Matrix, or the one containing products with recent price changes (or even one step further - just the products / sites violating the MAP price);
  • Identify most important categories / retail sites / markets. Based on this, define various widgets (pricing dynamics, stock dynamics, products violating MAP, product history chart) to be placed on Pricing Dashboard. This can save a lot of time when analyzing recent market changes!
  • Analyze historical price charts for key products in order to identify which retailer has started the pricing war;
  • Use Price Matrix (segmented per brand or category) to quickly identify sites positioned on lower / upper end of the market;
  • Use Price Change Dynamics chart to identify key moments (for example, when a retailer decided to go extremely cheap for a range of products, resulting in many products getting below MAP price). Use this to redefine the relationship with such a retailer.