Has Amazon misused seller data on its platform to improve sales of its own products? The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating this. However, Amazon itself has known for years that it happens internally.
The US stock market regulator has requested emails and other communications from several Amazon executives, sources told Reuters. The case revolves around Amazon allowing other sellers to offer products in its online store. But Amazon also has its product range that competes with some sellers.
Amazon is accused of abusing that position. For example, it knows whether a particular product from a third-party seller is selling well. But there are also allegations that the company would favour its own products and restrict previously successful merchants. In short: Amazon knows what scores well, launches its own competitor and favours that to the detriment of the original seller.
Two years ago, then-CEO and founder Jeff Bezos declared in the US parliament that the company prohibits the practice and that employees who work on products should not be allowed access to sales data of external competitors.
But that ban seems relative because an internal Amazon report, which could be consulted by Politico last year, showed that Amazon has been aware of such internal practices since 2015. In addition, 4,700 employees would have unauthorized access to that data, with at least one case of clear abuse.
The SEC’s investigation is now a follow-up to those revelations. If the American stock market regulator subsequently believes that Amazon is abusing its position, the company can be sanctioned for this.