Competition watchdogs are preparing to launch an investigation into how Amazon uses data collected from its third-party sellers. 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been analysing the etailer’s British business for several months amid concerns over how it uses the data it collects through its website.

Amazon screengrab June 2021

The EU is already looking into whether Amazon violated antitrust rules in how it uses data

The authority has also looked into the criteria Amazon uses when deciding which third-party sellers appear in its ‘buy box’ – the panel where Amazon highlights particular sellers that has become a key tool to drive sales.

According to the Financial Times, the expected CMA probe would focus on whether Amazon favours sellers that also use its logistics and delivery services when deciding which partners have access to the buy box and to its Prime customers. 

Amazon has declined to comment. 

The timing and scope of the investigation are unknown but would be similar to a probe already underway in the EU. 

The buy box forms part of the investigation being undertaken by the EU, which is also looking into whether Amazon violated antitrust rules in the way that it uses data from independent sellers on its marketplace for the benefit of its own retail business.

EU antitrust commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in November that it was focusing on “very specific business conduct” linked to Amazon’s dual role as a retailer and a platform for smaller, third-party sellers.

The UK and EU have both launched investigations into Facebook over alleged anti-competitive behaviour as authorities crack down on tech giants.

CMA sources told the FT that it wanted to have a “full portfolio” of cases against big tech companies and said the watchdog has been watching the progress of similar cases in Brussels.

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