Amazon India allegedly rigged search results and ripped off sellers’ products

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Officials reportedly reviewed plans

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Amazon reportedly used its search system and user data to gain an edge over sellers in India, according to a new report from Reuters. The report – based on internal emails, strategy plans and other documents – outlines its ambitious plan to dominate the platform with its in-house brands. According to the documents, that plan included strategies that Amazon refused to use amid antitrust investigations.

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NS Reuters The story provides extensive details about Amazon India’s alleged activity, but two key pieces stand out. The first is the claim that Amazon employees use “search seeding” (or boost the ranking of specific product listings) to ensure that company brands such as AmazonBasics are the “first two or three” search results for a category. appear in. The second, more widespread allegation involves identifying Amazon “reference” or “benchmark” products that are popular with customers and then copying them. At least two high-level officials reportedly reviewed the plans.

Amazon’s copying process apparently went beyond just cloning the looks of famous products. The documents reportedly indicate that Amazon India employees scrutinized internal data such as the number of times customers returned purchases and then designed products based on that. Reuters quotes a 2016 report about an in-house brand called Solimo, whose strategy is to “use information from Amazon.in to develop products and then market these products to our customers.” Leveraging the Amazon.in Platform”. The report also describes plans to partner with original manufacturers of reference products to capture “the unique processes that affect the final quality of a product.”

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Amazon denied the allegations in a statement Reuters, calling them “factually incorrect and baseless”. But they mirror the claims of other countries. A 2020 wall street journal report good found that Amazon employees had studied detailed internal sales data to help ditch independent sellers with competing products.

Amazon told magazine That the strategy was strictly prohibited among employees and a US Congressional hearing denied the claims, although then-CEO Jeff Bezos stated that he could not “guarantee” that the policy was never violated. . However, during the interrogation, Bezos portrayed the potential breaches as the actions of rogue employees – not as formal tactics like that. Reuters describes.

As Reuters notes, Amazon is under investigation in India for alleged anti-competitive behavior. (Regulators are also investigating its Walmart-backed competitor Flipkart.) The investigation includes potential anti-competitive behavior around self-branded products like AmazonBasics.

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