SUMMARY: (Reuters) Amazon copied products and rigged search results to promote its brands, documents show. And what made anyone think they weren’t doing this?
The documents reveal how Amazon’s private-brands team in India secretly exploited internal data from Amazon. in to copy products sold by other companies and then offered them on its platform. The employees also stoked sales of Amazon private-brand products by rigging Amazon’s search results so that its effects would appear, as one 2016 strategy report for India put it, “in the first two or three … search results” when customers were shopping on Amazon.
Amazon has been accused before by employees who worked on private-brand products of exploiting proprietary data from individual sellers to launch competing products and manipulating search results to increase sales of the company’s goods.
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Piyush Tulsian, a retailer who sells products on Amazon, said his sales of Logitech mouse pads dropped after customers who viewed details about the mouse pad were shown an ad for a cheaper product being sold under an Amazon brand.
I found out the hard way when a client advertising on Amazon had their ads moved to the bottom of the page where Amazon.com’s private label product replaced them. Amazon has a pattern of trying to crush the competition. Brands that place ads on the site often find they are competing against Amazon’s private label products, which of course, mean more money for them.
One supplement company, which had developed a great new vitamin, used Amazon’s advertising only to find two months later that Amazon had copied their product and was selling it for 35% less.
Tech companies have a substantial advantage over brands, and some will do anything to limit competitors’ sales. Yes, Amazon is the number one online retailer, but any brand that wants to sell on Amazon better consider potential consequences.