Amazon Offers to Address EU Competition Concerns

Amazon Offers to Address EU Competition Concerns

Amazon has offered to address concerns over its use of non-public marketplace seller data and concerns over a possible bias in granting sellers access to its Buy Box and its Prime programmes. The concerns were raised as part of a formal investigation by the EU’s competition authority.

On 17 July 2019, the EU Commission opened an investigation to assess whether Amazon’s use of non-public data from independent retailers selling in its marketplace breached EU competition rules.

On 10 November 2020, the Commission issued a Statement of 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.

In parallel, the Commission 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 Amazon’s Prime programme, which offers premium services to customers for a monthly or yearly fee and allows independent sellers to sell to Prime customers under certain conditions.

The Commission preliminarily found that the rules and criteria for Buy Box and Prime unduly favour Amazon’s own retail business, as well as marketplace sellers that use Amazon’s logistics and delivery services.

To address the concerns, Amazon has offered 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.

In relation to Buy Box, Amazon is offering to apply equal treatment to all sellers when ranking their offers for the purposes of the selection of the winner of the Buy Box and in addition, to display a second competing offer to the Buy Box winner if there is a second offer that is sufficiently differentiated from the first one on price and/or delivery.

Regarding Prime, Amazon offers to set non-discriminatory conditions and criteria for the qualification of marketplace sellers and offers to Prime, to allow Prime sellers to freely choose any carrier for their delivery services, and not to use any information obtained through Prime about the terms and performance of third-party carriers, for its own logistics services.  This is to ensure that carriers’ data is not flowing directly to Amazon’s competing logistics services.

The offered commitments cover all Amazon’s current and future marketplaces in the European Economic Area. They exclude Italy for the commitments related to Buy Box and Prime in view of the decision of 30 November 2021 of the Italian competition authority which already imposed remedies on Amazon.

The commitments would remain in force for five years.  The Commission is now inviting all interested parties to submit their views on Amazon’s proposed commitments before 9 September 2022.

Image by Anirudh/Via UnSplash/https://unsplash.com/license

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