According to the EU Commission, Amazon is illegally exploiting data of its merchants. Meanwhile, two antitrust proceedings are underway against the US company on suspicion of violating EU law.
Proceedings have been ongoing since last year
Last year, the EU Commission had already officially initiated competition proceedings against Amazon. The background was the suspicion of illegal business practices by the online merchant. In particular, the dual role as a platform for other traders and as a merchant raised concerns. Amazon is said to have used this advantage to improve its own offer. A systematic use of the data of merchants on Amazon’s marketplace would be anti-competitive. This suspicion has now probably been confirmed. It was apparently established by the EU Commission that Amazon employees have access to the non-public sales data of the individual dealers. This is a very enormous amount of data, which is then automatically evaluated.
The sole purpose of this is to improve the offer for the end customer and to optimize the online retailer’s strategy. According to Margrethe Vestager, the EU Commissioner responsible for competition policy, this is done “to the detriment of other sellers on the marketplace”. With this knowledge, Amazon has information about which products sell best and at what price. The retailer also knows the click rate on the respective offers, as well as the shipping information. Just as it looks with the use of the consumer rights of the buyers, they take these up and so on. The data is in-depth and very detailed. This allows the online merchant to adjust his offer according to the analyses and to focus it on the end customer. Amazon thereby avoids “the normal business risks associated with competition in the retail sector”, the EU Commission complains. If this suspicion is further substantiated, the Group is in breach of applicable EU law.
Not just one case against Amazon!
The EU Commissioner is now taking the next step that is formally necessary for the opening of the antitrust proceedings. Further proceedings against the online merchant are to be opened. This is to be about the preferential treatment of the own offers of Amazon and other traders on the marketplace. In particular, if other merchants use certain services, these should be preferred. The now in the meantime second initiated procedure against the US group aims at the criteria of the shopping cart field. Here the Commission suspects that the group prefers its own offers, as well as offers from sellers who use Amazon’s delivery and logistics service (“dispatch through Amazon”). This preferential treatment could also be a violation of EU law. The merchant can now view the investigation files of the first cartel proceedings against Amazon and work towards a hearing.