Amazon copied products and tampered with search results in India, a recent research found. According to the report, US Senator Elizabeth Warren called for Amazon to be closed and Indian retailers called for a state investigation into the company.
The Reuters report checked thousands of Amazon internal documents and found that the US company was running a systematic campaign to create imitations and manipulate search results to bolster its own private label brands in India, one of the company’s biggest growth markets .
Wednesday’s report showed for the first time that, in India at least, manipulating search results in favor of Amazon’s own products and copying goods from other sellers were part of a formal strategy at Amazon – and that at least two senior executives had checked it out.
Linked to the story on Twitter, Warren, a longtime critic of Amazon said, “These documents show what we feared about Amazon’s monopoly power – that the company is willing and able to manipulate its platform to increase its bottom line while empowering small businesses and entrepreneurs. “
“This is one of the many reasons we need to resolve it,” she said.
These documents reveal what we feared about Amazon’s monopoly power – that the company is willing and able to manipulate its platform to increase its bottom line while empowering small businesses and entrepreneurs. This is one of the many reasons we need to resolve it https://t.co/1M0Tfa2TnV
– Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) October 13, 2021
A group representing millions of Indian brick and mortar retailers said Thursday the country’s government must launch an investigation into Amazon.
“Amazon does a big disadvantage to the small manufacturers. They eat the cake that is not intended for them,” Praveen Khandelwal of the Confederation of All India Traders told Reuters. According to its own information, the group represents 80 million retail stores in the country.
Indian retailers say overseas e-commerce companies like Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart indulge in unfair business practices that harm smaller businesses, allegations the companies deny.
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on responses to the report.
When asked for Wednesday’s report, Amazon said, “We believe these claims are factually false and unfounded.” The company did not provide any information. It added that Amazon “displays search results based on relevance to the customer’s search query, regardless of whether or not such products have private label products offered by sellers.”
Warren, a prominent Democrat, advocated the dissolution of Amazon and other tech giants in 2019 when she ran for president. Since then, as a Senator from Massachusetts, she has continued to put pressure on companies like Amazon.
In an affidavit to Congress last year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said the company banned its employees from using data about individual sellers to support its private label business. And in 2019, another Amazon executive testified that the company does not use such data to create its own private label products or modify its search results to give preference to them.
The Amazon documents checked by Reuters showed how the company’s private label team in India secretly exploited internal data from its Indian unit to copy products from other companies and then sell them on its platform.
The company boosted sales of its own brands like AmazonBasics by manipulating search results on its platform in India so that, as a 2016 strategy report put it, its products would appear “in the first two or three … search results.”
The Alliance of Digital India Foundation, a nonprofit that represents some of India’s largest startups, said the practices described in the Reuters report were “very unfortunate” and included “Amazon’s credibility as a bona fide operator in the Indian startup ecosystem” Question “.
In a blog post, the group called on the Indian government to take action against “Amazon’s predatory game book of copying, manipulating and killing Indian brands”.
A senior official in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh economic wing, the ideological mother of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, urged consumers on Thursday to avoid the company.
“I call on the people of this country to boycott Amazon,” said Ashwani Mahajan, co-founder of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, on Twitter.