One growing narrative of an area of potentially increased regulatory oversight for Amazon is that of how it relates to merchants. In particular, what insights it gleans from how customers interact with merchants on its platform, how it applies those insights to its own strategy (private label and otherwise), and how it does or does not share back data with merchants.
Along those lines, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who was recently responsible for imposing a USD $5 billion fine on Google for Android violations, yesterday announced that she is researching Amazon’s practices in these areas. Per Quartz:
On Wednesday (Sept. 19), Vestager announced that she had started sending questionnaires to merchants who sell on Amazon, a first step toward ascertaining how the company uses the data it collects from those merchants. Specifically, she will be trying to find out if Amazon uses data from its third-party sellers to give itself an unfair advantage when competing against them in selling its own products.
“These are very early days and we haven’t formally opened a case,” Vestager said. “We are trying to make sure that we get the full picture… because this is also what a lot of people are talking about right now.” Amazon’s dual role as the world’s biggest online platform for third-party sellers and a retailer itself merits examination, according to the antitrust chief.
Vestager and the EU have the authority to levy substantial fines (up to 10% of revenue) on companies that they deem in violation of anti-trust behavior. In the case of Amazon, that would mean a substantial amount. We’ll keep tracking the EU’s investigation here on TJI.
Image credit: EU