Investigation: Amazon Beats Own Sellers With Shady Tactics

'Wall Street Journal' says ex-employees admit looking at off-limits data on competitors
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2020 10:45 AM CDT
Investigation: Amazon Beats Own Sellers With Shady Tactics
A shipping box is seen at an Amazon fulfillment center in Aurora, Colo.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Amazon is selling more products under its own label as it directly competes against independent sellers on its own platform. The company swears up and down it doesn't peek at data deemed by those sellers as proprietary, but the Wall Street Journal reports the claim isn't true. The newspaper spoke to more than 20 former employees who described how Amazon games the system to its own benefit. "We knew we shouldn't," says one of the interviewees. "But at the same time, we are making Amazon branded products, and we want them to sell." This directly violates company policy, and Amazon has responded to the story by launching its own internal investigation. The WSJ report spells out how Amazon could gain a huge advantage before launching a product by learning precisely how to price it to undercut competitors.

"In one instance, Amazon employees accessed documents and data about a bestselling car-trunk organizer sold by a third-party vendor," per the story. "The information included total sales, how much the vendor paid Amazon for marketing and shipping, and how much Amazon made on each sale." After all that, Amazon began selling its own trunk organizers. The piece details how managers could skirt official restrictions. For example, a manager would order a report that would supposedly have data aggregated from a number of sellers (which is allowed), but the report would instead be almost entirely from one seller. Read the full story. (Read more Amazon stories.)

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