The European Union’s competition regulator has launched an investigation into Amazon over concerns that it is using its sellers’ data to gain a competitive advantage.
The anti-trust investigation will assess Amazon’s use of sensitive data from independent retailers in its dual capacity as both a marketplace and a direct competitor.
The investigation will look into two areas. First, it will consider the standard agreements between Amazon and marketplace sellers, which allow Amazon’s retail business to use marketplace sellers’ data. It will investigate whether this hampers competition.
Second, the commission will investigate the role of the data in selecting the retailers featured in Amazon’s “Buy Box”.
The “Buy Box” features on Amazon’s homepage and allows customers to add items from specific retailers to their shopping carts.
Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “European consumers are increasingly shopping online. Ecommerce 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.”
A spokesman for Amazon said: ”We will cooperate fully with the European Commission and continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.”