The European Commission says that tech giant Amazon has offered to implement a number of measures to deal with competition concerns about its use of data from independent sellers on its platform.
It has also invited interested parties to give their views on Amazon's proposed commitments before 9 September 2022.
In 2019, the EU body opened an investigation into whether Amazon’s use of such information breached EU competition rules.
Its concerns centre on Amazon’s role as an operator of a marketplace that is used by the company itself, as a retailer, as well as independent sellers.
The commission is concerned that, as a result of this dual position, Amazon has access to large sets of data about independent sellers' activities on its platform – including information that is not publicly available.
In November 2020, the EU watchdog outlined its preliminary view that Amazon should not rely on independent sellers' business data to calibrate its retail decisions, “as this distorts fair competition on its platform, and prevents effective competition”.
It later opened probes into two other areas of Amazon’s business: Buy Box, which shows an offer from one single seller; and the Prime programme, which offers premium services to customers for a monthly or yearly fee, and allows independent sellers to sell to Prime customers under certain conditions.
The commission’s preliminary finding was that the rules and criteria for these services “unduly” favoured Amazon's own retail business, as well as sellers that used Amazon's logistics and delivery services.
In response, Amazon has now committed to stop using non-public data relating to, or derived from, the activities of independent sellers on its marketplace, for its retail business that competes with those sellers.
It has also offered to apply equal treatment to all sellers when ranking their offers on Buy Box, and to set “non-discriminatory” conditions and criteria for the Prime programme.
The commitments would remain in place for five years, and a monitoring trustee would report to the commission on their implementation.