Is Amazon getting an unjust advantage from the data of online retailers selling through its marketplace? The European Committee has started a preliminary investigation to find out, according to European commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
Amazon doesn't just sell products through its platform, but also third-party goods and services. This 'second hat' provides the American e-commerce giant with a wealth of information about which products are popular with certain target groups.
If Amazon uses these sales data to improve its service to retailers, then the practice is legitimate, according to Vestager during a press conference yesterday. "But are these data also used to analyse what people want, what the next 'big thing' will become?" she wondered. In that case it's only a small step to buying similar products or having them manufactured at lower prices. "We are still at the very beginning. We question market players and try to form a complete picture," added the European commissioner.
The world of e-commerce has long harboured suspicions that large players such as Amazon may be using the sales data of competitors for their own gain. Amazon is far from the only suspect: in the middle of May, entrepreneurial organisation Unizo warned about similar practices on the part of Bol.com. "If you sell products through Bol.com, you are giving commercial information to a competitor", said delegated administrator Danny Van Assche. "Bol.com can then see which of your products are popular and decide to sell those themselves." Unizo advised shopkeepers who are willing to collaborate with an external sales platform to give preference to initiatives that don't sell products themselves.