While internet dealers may conjure more negative characteristics of underbidding and unaccountability, a dedicated effort by manufacturers has kept robotics viable for traditional industry players. Using minimum advertised pricing (MAP), companies ensure that retailers can still get a piece of the pie. MAP regulates authorized dealers and keeps prices to a level where retailers can still see a profit.
Furthermore, retailers may even see an advantage in offering
robotic cleaners, as Chinese manufacturers who offer more
traditional cleaners have created products priced under $100,
eroding any potential profit margin.
Though online prices may still be a bit cheaper, there are
certain intangibles to create healthy competition.
“Is it that you’ll save $50 or is it you’d
rather buy from someone who’s an authorized dealer…the
guy you buy chemicals from and you can shake his hand,” says
Gil Erlich, vice president of sales and marketing for Aqua Products in
Cedar Grove, N.J. “Those variables will ensure the survival
of brick-and-mortar retail.”
Some manufacturers will even create separate sales programs to
differentiate between the two.
“We try to create OEM products with various features that
will be exclusive to certain retailers or distributors so they can
compete with the internet,” says Stephen Shulman, director of
marketing for SmartPool in Lakewood, N.J.