Amazon engaged in “a formal, clandestine strategy” of copying other sellers’ goods with its own brands in India and then ensured its offerings appeared near the top of searches on the ecommerce platform, according to a Reuters investigation.
The report, which was based on “thousands of pages of internal Amazon documents,” detailed how Amazon would often take a popular offering by a seller on Amazon and treat it as a “reference brand.” The ecommerce giant would then develop its own products to match the reference as closely as possible, in one case using the same measurements as another brand’s shirt, down to fractions of an inch.
Although Amazon says its search rankings do not give preference to its own offerings and only reward measures like low prices, the company used techniques to give itself a leg up in results, the report concluded. The measures included ones usually reserved for raising of the profile of mostly new products “whose sales are so low that there’s insufficient data for the company’s technology to rank them” as well as banners above typical rankings.
Amazon told Reuters it believes the “claims are factually incorrect and unsubstantiated” without saying how.
Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.
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Amazon ‘copied’ goods in India then ‘rigged’ searches, report says – Protocol
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