Amazon proposes limiting use of seller data in bid to settle EU antitrust investigation

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Amazon has proposed limiting the use of seller data on marketplaces and has made changes to the “Buy Box” rating to address antitrust concerns in the European Union. Commission confirmed today.

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He also suggested revisiting how sellers could qualify for inclusion on Prime; and allow them to choose their own shipping company and negotiate terms directly with the carrier, and undertakes not to use any data obtained through Prime on the terms and performance of third party carriers for their own competing logistics services.

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In recent weeks in reports Reuters and FT assumed that Amazon would offer competitors more data and provide customers with a wider choice of products in order to regulate the EU’s actions.

The Commission today confirmed the report, summarizing Amazon’s commitment as follows:

  • Information about the seller of the trading platform: Refrain from using non-public data relating to or derived from the activities of independent sellers on its marketplace for its retail business that competes with those sellers. “This applies to both automated Amazon tools and employees who can cross-use data from the Amazon Marketplace to make retail decisions. The relevant data will cover both individual and aggregate data such as terms of sale, revenues, shipments, inventory information, customer visit data, or seller performance on the platform. Amazon will not use such data for the purposes of selling branded or private label products.
  • In the “Buy” field: Apply equal treatment to all sellers when ranking their offers for the purposes of selecting a Buy Box winner; and furthermore display a second competing offer to the Buy Box winner if there is a second offer that is sufficiently different from the first in price and/or shipping. “Both offerings will display the same descriptive information and deliver the same shopping experience. This will expand consumer choice.”
  • At the premiere: Commit to setting non-discriminatory terms and conditions and eligibility criteria for sellers and offerings for Prime marketplaces; allow Prime sellers to freely choose any carrier for their logistics and shipping services and negotiate terms directly with the carrier of their choice; not use any information received through Prime about the conditions and work of third-party carriers for their own logistics services. “This is to ensure that carrier data does not go directly to competing Amazon logistics services.”
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The Commission is asking for feedback on the proposed commitments by September 9 before deciding whether to accept them.

EU investigates Amazon’s use of seller data since 2019 — continuing to lay out formal accusations of 2020 when he also opened a second parallel investigation into the Buy Box and Prime programs.

The panel said its preliminary finding is that Amazon’s Buy Box and Prime rules and criteria are biased and “inappropriately favor Amazon’s own retail business as well as marketplace sellers who use Amazon’s logistics and shipping services.” Press release warns that it “could be detrimental to other sellers in the market, their independent carriers, other markets, and consumers who may not see better deals.”

Amazon’s commitments aim to address these issues and hopefully avoid financial penalties.

If the Commission does accept the proposal, it says the commitments will last for five years and will apply throughout the European Economic Area, with the exception of Italy, which introduced its own antitrust measures against Amazon last year when it also Amazon fined $1.3 billion for abusing their position in the market.

Amazon has been contacted to comment on the commitment it is now offering to the EU.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the e-commerce giant took the opportunity to hit new EU law which will change the bloc’s approach to the challenges of digital competition by creating cutting-edge conditions for the most powerful “gatekeeper” platforms.

Amazon also said it disagreed with “some” of the EU’s findings, but said it was “constructively engaged” in the process, suggesting that the commitments it made take into account the Commission’s concerns.

Here is Amazon’s statement in full:

“While we have serious concerns about the Digital Markets Act being unfairly targeted at Amazon and several other US companies, and disagree with some of the findings of the European Commission, we have engaged constructively with the Commission to address their concerns and maintain our ability to serve European customers. and over 185,000 European SMEs trading through our stores. No company cares more about small businesses and has done more to support them over the past two decades than Amazon.”

While the commitments may signal an imminent end to Amazon’s EU antitrust scrutiny, the tech giant is facing increased antitrust scrutiny elsewhere in the region, including Germany and the UK, which could lead to additional demands on how it can operate in those markets.

Earlier this monthThe British competition regulator has launched the same investigation into Amazon as it has in the EU, although it will first need to determine whether the company has a dominant position in the market.

Germany also confirmed this month that Amazon’s business meets the threshold for special anti-abuse measures under domestic competition law, which was reformed to tackle the market power of the digital giants last year.

As a result, Amazon can expect antitrust review and corrective action deemed necessary to be implemented faster than previously in the market.

The German competition agency has already studied the extent to which Amazon can influence the pricing of sellers in its marketplace through price control mechanisms and algorithms; and examining agreements between it and brand manufacturers to check whether exceptions placed against third-party sellers on the Amazon Marketplace constitute a violation of competition rules. These investigations are ongoing.

Another recent development in the region was a coordinated consumer advocacy intervention against Amazon this month. led to an agreement to simplify the cancellation process for Prime in the region after complaints about its dark patterns.

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