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U.S. Senator Warren urges Amazon breakup, India retailers want probe after Reuters story

The report showed that, at least in India, manipulating search results to favour Amazon’s products, as well as copying other sellers’ goods, were part of a formal strategy at Amazon |

Photo Credit: Reuters

According to a revelation based on hundreds of internal Amazon papers, the corporation engaged in a systematic campaign of producing knockoffs and manipulating search results in India to promote its own private brands.

After a Reuters investigation revealed the e-commerce giant had cloned products and rigged search results in India, US Senator Elizabeth Warren urged for the corporation to be broken up, and Indian shops demanded a government investigation.

The research, which examined thousands of internal Amazon papers, discovered that the corporation engaged in a deliberate strategy of generating knockoffs and manipulating search results in India, one of the company’s fastest-growing countries.

According to the study released on October 13th, altering search results to favor Amazon’s products, as well as replicating other vendors’ goods, were all part of a formal plan at Amazon, and it had been vetted by at least two top officials.

Linking to the story on Twitter, Facebook, Elizabeth Warren said

“these documents show what we feared about Amazon’s monopoly power— that the company is willing and able to rig its platform to benefit its bottom line while stiffing small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

“This is one of the many reasons we need to break it up,” she said.

When she ran for president in 2019, Ms. Warren, campaigned for the breakup of Amazon and other tech behemoths.

Ken Buck, a Republican member of the House of Representatives’ antitrust subcommittee, also posted about the news, saying,”These documents prove Amazon engages in anti competitive practices such as rigging search results and self-preferencing their own products over competitors.”

“More concerning, it contradicts what Jeff Bezos told Congress,” the Colorado lawmaker said. “Amazon and Mr. Bezos must be held accountable.”

Retailers, start-ups concerned

Last year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos testified before the subcommittee that the company forbids its employees from utilizing data on individual sellers to boost its private-label business. Another Amazon executive testified in 2019 that the business does not utilize such data to design its own private-label products or to favor them in search results.

Amazon’s private-brands team in India secretly exploited internal data from its India unit to mimic products sold by other companies and then market them on its platform, according to papers examined by Reuters.

The corporation boosted sales of its private brands like Amazon Basics by rigging search results on its platform in India so that its products appeared in the top search results, according to a 2016 strategy study.

On October 14, a group representing millions of brick-and-mortar merchants demanded that the country’s authorities investigate Amazon.

Retailers claim that international e-commerce giants like Amazon and Walmart Inc’s Flipkart engage in unfair business methods that harm smaller enterprises, which the corporations dispute.

The methods outlined in the Reuters investigation were “highly deplorable,” according to the Alliance of Digital India Foundation, a charity representing some of India’s biggest entrepreneurs, casting doubt on “Amazon’s credibility as a good faith operator in the Indian startup ecosystem.

The group urged the Indian government to intervene in “Amazon’s predatory playbook of copying, rigging, and killing Indian brands” in a blog post.

On October 14, a key official in the economic wing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, asked people to avoid the company.

I call upon people of this country to #boycottAmazon,” Ashwani Mahajan, co-convenor of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, said on Twitter.

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