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Indian Retailers Call for Amazon Investigation After Report Shows Ecommerce Giant Copied Products

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for Amazon’s separation, 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 results of research in India.

The Reuters report, examining thousands of internal Amazon documents, found that the U.S. company had carried out a systematic campaign of counterfeiting and manipulating search results to boost its own private brands in India, one of the the most promising markets for the company.

Wednesday’s report showed for the first time that, at least in India, manipulating search results to favor Amazon’s own products, as well as copying other sellers’ products, was part of a formal strategy. at Amazon – and that at least two senior executives had reviewed this.

Linking to the story on Twitter, Warren, a longtime Amazon critic, said that “these documents show what we fear about Amazon’s monopoly power – that the company is willing and able to rig its platform. -form to improve its results while strengthening small businesses. and entrepreneurs. “

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

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’s Flipkart engage in unfair trading practices that hurt small businesses, claims the companies deny.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on reactions to the report.

Responding to questions in Wednesday’s report, Amazon said, “We believe these claims are factually incorrect and unfounded.” The company did not specify. He added that Amazon displays “search results based on the relevance of the customer’s search query, whether or not these products have private labels offered by the sellers.”

Warren, a prominent 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.

In sworn testimony to Congress last year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said the company banned its employees from using data about individual sellers to help its private label business. And, 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 labels like AmazonBasics by rigging search results on its platform in India so that its products appear, as a 2016 strategy report put it, “in the top two or three … results. of research “.

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

In a blog post, the group urged the Indian government to take action against “Amazon’s predatory playbook 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.

“I call the people of this country to #boycotter Amazon,” Swadeshi Jagran Manch co-organizer Ashwani Mahajan said on Twitter.

REUTERS

Indian Retailers Call for Amazon Investigation After Report Shows Ecommerce Giant Copied Products

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