Amazon rigged results, copied products to promote its own brand in India
Amazon.com Inc has been repeatedly accused of knocking off products it sells on its website and of exploiting its vast trove of internal data to promote its own merchandise at the expense of other sellers.
A Reuters report shows how the company runs a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India, one of the company’s largest growth markets.
The report reveals how Amazon’s private-brands team in India secretly exploited internal data from Amazon.in to copy products sold by other companies, and then offered them on its platform. The employees also stoked sales of Amazon private-brand products by rigging Amazon’s search results so that the company’s products would appear, as one 2016 strategy report for India put it in the first 2 or three search results when customers were shopping on Amazon.in.
The report alleged that among the victims of Amazon’s anti-market practices was a popular shirt brand in India called John Miller that is owned by Kishore Biyani-founded Future Group, currently embroiled in a legal battle with Amazon.
A group of US Senators has announced plans to introduce a non-discrimination bill that could rejig Amazon’s online marketplace.
The American Choice and Innovation Online Act, led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), would prevent platforms like Amazon, Apple, and Google from using their online dominance to disadvantage other firms, reports The Verge.
“When dominant tech companies exclude rivals & kill competition, it hurts small businesses and can increase costs for you,” Klobuchar said in a tweet on Thursday.
He said that the new bipartisan legislation will establish new rules of the road to prevent large companies from boxing out their smaller competitors.
The third-party sellers have long accused Amazon of similar anti-competition behaviour.
In India, the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) and the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) have condemned Amazon’s “predatory playbook” of allegedly copying, rigging, and killing Indian brands, urging the government for timely intervention.
The Confederation Of All India Traders (CAIT) National President B C Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal demanded an immediate CBI investigation into the charges made in the report.
Sijo Kuruvilla George, Executive Director of The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), said that it brings to light Amazon’s blatant disregard for competition laws, intellectual property rights, and disgraceful predatory practices.
“The manner in which the e-commerce giant has targeted the Indian market and leading brands in the country is highly deplorable and brings into question the credibility of Amazon as a good faith operator in the Indian startup ecosystem,” George said.
Amazon is also facing an inquiry by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) over allegedly anti-competitive practices and a parallel inquiry by the Enforcement Directorate for violation of domestic laws.
The Directorate General of Goods and Service Tax Intelligence (DGGI) has also issued a show-cause notice to one of its subsidiaries, Cloudtail, for evasion of GST and indirect taxes.
[With Inputs from IANS]
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