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Europe points its big guns at Amazon

E-commerce
EUROPE The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation to assess whether Amazon's use of sensitive data from independent retailers who sell on its marketplace is in breach of EU competition rules.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "European consumers are increasingly shopping online. E-commerce has boosted retail competition and brought more choice and better prices. We need to ensure that large online platforms don't eliminate these benefits through anti-competitive behaviour. I have therefore decided to take a very close look at Amazon's business practices and its dual role as marketplace and retailer, to assess its compliance with EU competition rules.”

While providing a marketplace for independent sellers, Amazon continuously collects data about their activities on its platform. The commission suspects Amazon of using competitively sensitive information about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions on the marketplace to restrict competition.

As part of its in-depth investigation the commission will look into the standard agreements between Amazon and marketplace sellers, which allow Amazon's retail business to analyse and use third party seller data.

The commission will also examine how Amazon collects and uses data to award the Amazon Buy Box, which determines from which retailer a given product is purchased when a customer adds a product to their shopping cart.



photo: Johannes Jansson/norden.org [CC BY 2.5 dk (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/dk/deed.en)]

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