US Senator Warren urges Amazon cut-off, Indian retailers want probe after Reuters story

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NEW DELHI: US Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for Amazon.com Inc to separate and Indian retailers have called for a government investigation into the company after a Reuters investigation found the e-commerce giant copied products and rigged search results in India.

Reuters report https://t.co/PiVEqAgjY6, examining thousands of internal Amazon documents, found that the U.S. company was running a systematic campaign of counterfeiting and manipulating search results to boost its own brands private companies in India, one of the largest in society. growing markets.

Wednesday’s report showed that, at least in India, manipulating search results to favor Amazon’s products, as well as copying other sellers’ products, was part of a formal strategy at Amazon – and that ‘at least two senior executives had examined it.

The Reuters investigation drew bipartisan criticism of Amazon from U.S. lawmakers.

Linked to the story on Twitter https://twitter.com/SenWarren/status/1448397325047566341 and Facebook, Warren, a longtime Amazon critic, said, “These documents show what we feared about monopoly power from Amazon – which the company is willing and able to rig its platform to improve its bottom line while strengthening small businesses and entrepreneurs. “

“This is one of the many reasons we have to break up,” she said.

Warren, a leading Democrat, advocated the disbandment of Amazon and other tech giants in 2019 when she was running for president. Since then, as a senator from Massachusetts, she has continued to pressure companies like Amazon.

Ken Buck, a Republican on the House Antitrust Subcommittee, also shared the story on social media, stating https://twitter.com/RepKenBuck/status/1448304840640237571, “These documents prove that Amazon engages in anti-competitive practices such as rigging search results and self-preferring their own products over their competitors. “

“More worryingly, it contradicts what Jeff Bezos told Congress,” the Colorado lawmaker said. “Amazon and Bezos must be held accountable.”

Asked to comment on the reactions, Amazon released a statement similar to that provided for the Reuters investigation.

“These allegations are incorrect and unfounded,” he said. “We display search results based on their relevance to customers, whether these products are private labels offered by the sellers or not. “

Amazon said it “strictly prohibits the use or sharing of non-public and seller-specific data with sellers, including with private label sellers,” and is investigating reports of its employees acting contrary to this policy. .

The company has not commented on criticism from US lawmakers or Indian retailers.

DEALERS INDIA, START-UP CONCERNED

In sworn testimony before the subcommittee last year, Amazon founder Bezos said the company banned its employees from using data about individual sellers to help its private label business. . In 2019, another Amazon executive said the company is not using this data to create its own private label products or modify its search results to favor them.

Amazon documents reviewed by Reuters showed how the company’s private label team in India secretly exploited internal data in its Indian unit to copy products sold by other companies and then offered them on its platform .

The company has promoted sales of its private brands like AmazonBasics by rigging search results on its platform in India so that its products appear, as a 2016 strategic report put it, “in the top 2 or three … results of research “.

A group representing millions of Indian brick and mortar retailers said Thursday the country’s government must launch an investigation into Amazon.

“Amazon causes a great disadvantage to small manufacturers. They eat the cake that is not intended for them,” Praveen Khandelwal of the Confederation of Indian Traders told Reuters. The group claims to represent 80 million retail stores in the country.

Indian retailers say foreign e-commerce companies like Amazon and Walmart Inc’s Flipkart engage in unfair trading practices that hurt small businesses, claims the companies deny.

The Alliance of Digital India Foundation, a nonprofit representing some of India’s biggest startups, said the practices detailed in the Reuters report were “highly deplorable”, calling into question “Amazon’s credibility as a as a bona fide operator in the ecosystem of Indian startups “.

In a blog post https://blog.adif.in/p/adif-amazon-reuters-ecommerce-fair-markets, the group urged the Indian government to take action against “Amazon’s predatory playbook consisting of copying, faking and killing Indian brands ”.

A senior official in the economic wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological relative of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, urged consumers to avoid the company on Thursday.

“Calling people from this country to #boycotter Amazon,” Ashwani Mahajan, co-organizer of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, said on Twitter https://twitter.com/ashwani_mahajan/status/1448525157476175879?s=20.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi and Steve Stecklow in London; editing by William Mallard)



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