Amazon and sellers complement each other and together create a better customer experience than either could create alone, the company wrote in a blog post on Tuesday titled, "Fringe notions on antitrust would destroy small businesses and hurt consumers."
However, a government report out yesterday expressed concern over the company's practices. In one excerpt, the report takes issue with the fact that sellers can't contact buyers, something sellers on other marketplace may also relate to:
"An important limit on a seller's ability to switch from Amazon to selling on its own site or a competing platform is that Amazon generally forbids sellers from contacting their customers. The packaging and even the order confirmation email for third-party sales feature the Amazon brand prominently and do not reference the seller. A typical Amazon customer is unaware of the source of the sale."
The report doesn't paint a pretty picture, stating some sellers who testified before the subcommittee described bullying and strong-arm tactics on the part of the company. "While Amazon has referred to third-party sellers on its Marketplace as "partners," and "customers," numerous small and medium-sized businesses told the Subcommittee that Amazon routinely bullies and mistreats them."
Lawmakers also looked at Facebook, Google, and Apple in its missive. CNBC described the report
in an article: "House Democrats unveiled their nearly 450-page antitrust report Tuesday finding Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google each hold monopoly power and, in some cases, should have parts of their businesses effectively broken up."
The Congressional report states that dominant platforms have misappropriated the data of third parties that rely on their platforms, effectively collecting information from customers only to weaponize it against them as rivals, and therefore issued as its first recommendation: "Reduce Conflicts of Interest Thorough Structural Separations and Line of Business Restrictions."
"A former Amazon employee told the Subcommittee that Amazon has used the data of third-party merchants to inform Amazon's own private label strategy, identifying which third-party products were selling well and then introducing copycat versions," according to the report. (See Amazon's stance on this claim in today's Geekwire article
The House subcommittee report
(PDF), titled, "Investigation of Competition in the Digital Marketplace: Majority Staff Report and Recommendations," totals more than 400 pages, marking the culmination of an investigation that included seven congressional hearings, the production of nearly 1.3 million internal documents and communications, submissions from 38 antitrust experts, and interviews with more than 240 market participants, former employees of the investigated platforms, and other individuals.
The Amazon post
, titled, "Fringe notions on antitrust would destroy small businesses and hurt consumers," states "Misguided interventions in the free market would kill off independent retailers and punish consumers by forcing small businesses out of popular online stores, raising prices, and reducing consumer choice and convenience."
Do you think Amazon (and other marketplaces such as eBay and Etsy) play fair with sellers?
Let us know what policies and practices trouble you about the online marketplaces on which you sell, and what actions, if any, lawmakers should take.