Amazon Agrees To Address Anti-Trust Concerns To Avoid EU Fines
Amazon has agreed to address competition concerns over its use of non-public marketplace seller data in Europe along with a possible bias in granting sellers access to its ‘Buy Box’ and ‘Prime’ programme, the European Commission said on Thursday.
The Commission is now seeking feedback on commitments offered by Amazon concerning marketplace seller data and access to its programmes.
It has invited all interested parties to submit their views on Amazon’s proposed commitments before September 9.
If Amazon breaks such commitments, the Commission said it can impose a fine of up to 10 per cent of the company’s worldwide turnover, without having to prove an infringement of the EU antitrust rules.
In 2019, the Commission opened a formal investigation to assess whether Amazon’s use of non-public data from independent retailers selling in its marketplace breached EU competition rules.
In 2020, it issued objections, outlining its preliminary view that Amazon should not rely on independent sellers’ business data to calibrate its retail decisions, as this distorts fair competition on its platform and prevents effective competition.
In parallel, it opened a second investigation into Amazon’s Buy Box, which prominently displays the offer of one single seller and allows products to be swiftly purchased by directly clicking on a buy button and the Prime programme.
“Amazon has access to large sets of data about the independent sellers’ activities on its platform, including non-public business data,” the commission said in a statement.
The Commission preliminarily found that the rules and criteria for the Buy Box and Prime unduly favour Amazon’s own retail business, as well as marketplace sellers that use Amazon’s logistics and delivery services.
“This bias may harm other marketplace sellers, their independent carriers, other marketplaces, as well as consumers that may not get to view the best deals,” it argued.
With respect to the marketplace seller data, Amazon commits to 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 would apply to both Amazon’s automated tools and employees that could cross-use the data from Amazon Marketplace, for the purposes of retail decisions,” said the Commission.