The business practices of Amazon will be put under the microscope as the competition watchdog of the European Union launched an investigation into how the retailer makes use of information that is collected from its smaller merchants.
The preliminary probe will be scrutinising how the online shopping titan makes use of the data that it collects as a host for the merchants and as a seller itself, as Amazon also sells its own products alongside those of numerous smaller businesses.
Margrethe Vestager, the competition commissioner of the European Union, said that questionnaires have been sent to the market participants in order to understand the said issues fully, however, the probe is still in its very early stages and the case has not been opened formally.
At a press conference that was held today, Vestager stated: “The question here is about the data.”
She added: “If you, as Amazon does, get the data from the smaller merchants that you host, which of course can be completely legitimate because you can improve your service to these smaller merchants, do you also then use this data to do your own calculations into what is the new big thing, what is it that people want, what are the offers that they like to receive, what makes them buy things?”
The probe was proposed by the sector inquiry of the commissioner which was carried out during the previous year.
The EU commissioner stated: “We are gathering information on the issue and we have sent quite a number of questionnaires to market participants in order to understand this issue in full.”
She added: “These are very early days and we haven’t formally opened a case. We are trying to make sure that we get the full picture.”
Amazon refused to release a comment regarding the matter.