Amazon used its search system and user data to outpace sellers in India, according to to report New released by Reuters.
The report – based on internal emails, strategic plans and other documents – outlines an ambitious plan to take control of the platform with its internal brands.
According to the documents, that plan included strategies the company vehemently denied using amid antitrust scrutiny.
The Reuters story provides extensive detail about the alleged Amazon India activity. Including claiming that company employees boosted ratings for certain product listings to ensure company brands like AmazonBasics appeared in the first two or three search results within the category.
The second, more comprehensive claim involves the company identifying and copying reference or standard products that are popular with customers. Allegedly, at least two high-ranking executives have revised the plans.
The copying process appears to have gone beyond simply reproducing the appearance of well-known products. The documents reportedly state that Amazon India employees checked internal data such as how many times customers returned purchases and then designed products accordingly.
Reuters quotes a 2016 report from an in-house brand called Solimo, whose strategy was to use information from Amazon.in to develop products and then leverage the Amazon.in platform to market those products to customers.
The report also described plans to partner with original manufacturers of reference products to capture unique processes that affect the final quality of a product.
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Amazon cloned sellers’ products
Amazon denied the allegations in a statement to Reuters, describing them as factually untrue and baseless. But A 2020 Wall Street Journal report found that company employees studied detailed internal sales data to help it crush independent sellers with competing products.
Amazon told the newspaper that this tactic is strictly prohibited among employees and denied the allegations at a US Congressional hearing. That’s even though then-CEO Jeff Bezos said he couldn’t guarantee the policy would never be violated.
During questioning, Bezos portrayed potential abuses as the actions of individual employees, not the official strategy described by Reuters.
As Reuters notes, the company is under investigation in India over alleged anti-competitive behaviour. Regulators are also investigating Walmart-backed rival Flipkart.
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