Amazon’s practices will be subject to review by the UK in a new antitrust investigation scheduled by regulators.
According to sources speaking to the Financial Times, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, a watchdog for business innovation and competition, intends to launch a formal investigation into the management and the use of data by the e-commerce giant.
According to the FT, the agency has observed and analyzed the activities of Amazon “for months”, and was particularly interested in the collection of data and the ranking of merchants.
Doubts about the Buy Box
The survey will seek to answer questions about merchant favoritism – and whether or not the platform pushes merchants up the rankings when they use Amazon’s logistics and delivery services.
The “buy box” panel, essential for consumer purchases and used when there are several sellers for the same item, would be of particular interest to the authority, and whether anti-competitive behavior exists in how Amazon decides which merchants have access to it.
Amazon describes the buy box as an “optimal” feature based on customer feedback and service. “When there are multiple sellers for a product, we highlight the best of those deals on the product page, in what is sometimes called a ‘buy box’,” the company explains. “All offers from Amazon retailers and independent sellers compete to be part of the featured offers based on the same criteria, such as low price (including delivery), speed of delivery, history good customer service and reliability in keeping delivery promises. “
Brussels has opened two investigations against Amazon
The regulator has yet to announce a possible investigation into Amazon. However, if it were to be launched, it would follow the investigations launched by the European Commission last year.
Brussels said that since Amazon acts as both an online marketplace and a retailer, it has access to data from third-party sellers, and may use it unfairly to its advantage, for example in connection with strategic business decisions. In addition, the Commission has opened a second investigation into the buy box and any preferential treatment given to sellers who use logistics or delivery services provided by Amazon.
The British authority told that it “cannot speculate on which cases it may or may not investigate.”
In May, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) announced an investigation into the use of technology providers ‘products and how citizens’ data is managed, stored and protected. These products include Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure cloud services. Separately, the agency also analyzes compliance with data protection law and the use of Microsoft Office 365 by European authorities.