Amazon India reportedly copied sellers’ products and rigged search results

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  • Amazon’s India division copied goods from other sellers and manipulated search results in favor of its own, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
  • Reuters’ findings contradict Amazon’s own message about how it develops its private label products.
  • Businesses that sell their wares on Amazon have previously accused Amazon of shutting down their wares.

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Amazon’s India division is engaged in a systematic campaign of third-party sellers copying items sold and then manipulating search results to favor their own products, according to a Reuters Report on Wednesday citing internal documents.

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In a 2016 document, titled “India Private Brands Program,” Amazon’s private label team in India detailed how it would review sales and customer review data to identify “reference brands,” according to the article, according to the article.

In one case, Amazon employees saw an increase in returns for shirts made by one of its private-label clothing brands because of size issues, Reuters said. The team reportedly found an outselling brand and modified the fit of its shirts to match its measurements.

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Amazon teams in India also worked to promote the company’s private label products in search results, according to Reuters, using techniques called “search seeding” and “sparkles”. “Search seeding” allowed Amazon to ensure that new products were the second or third results in search queries, while “sparkles” are banners that are positioned above search results, Reuters reported.

Reuters said Amazon’s high-ranking executives, including Diego Piacentini, who previously headed the company’s international business, and senior VP of international consumer Russell Grandinetti, were aware of business practices in India. Piacentini reported to Executive Chairman and Founder Jeff Bezos and is part of an impressive team of key executives overseeing Grandinetti CEO Andy Jesse.

Reuters’ findings directly contrast Amazon’s previous message about how it develops its private label products. For many years, Amazon has launched its own private-label goods under the AmazonBasics branding, offering everything from furniture to clothing. It also offers private label products under other brand names.

Businesses that sell their wares on Amazon have previously questioned how the retail giant comes up with their products, with some alleging that Amazon directly ported their wares.

Amazon executives, including Bezos, have maintained it’s against company policy to use data from third-party merchants to manufacture future products. Bezos told a congressional committee in July 2020 that Amazon has a policy that protects seller data from employee access.

Bezos said at the time, “If we find that someone has violated it, we will take action.”

Amazon representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the full Reuters report Here.

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