European Competition Commission Looks at Amazon

European Union antitrust regulators are asking retailers and manufacturers whether Amazon’s sales of its private brand products have negatively impacted their business, a question which could lead to a formal investigation and fines of the US-based e-commerce giant.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said last week she was looking into whether Amazon is using sales data illegally.

The European Commission’s focus is on Amazon’s role as a retailer selling manufacturers, and as a rival via its private brand products. A challenging question given that bricks and mortar private brand retailers have utilized the same advantage for decades.

In a questionnaire sent to retailers, the Commission asked whether Amazon’s private brand products launched in the past five years were identical or very similar to rival products offered on its platform.

Merchants were asked how Amazon’s products have affected their business, their investment, marketing, pricing, sales strategy and business decisions, and whether the number of sellers increased or decreased following Amazon’s entry.

Regulators also wanted to know if Amazon had contacted retailers or their suppliers before launching new products.

Merchants were asked to provide documents such as exchanges with Amazon or their suppliers and screenshots of websites to prove their claims.

Retailers were given until October 9th to reply to the 16-page questionnaire.

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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.