Amazon relaxes logistics and delivery rules in EU Prime • The Register

Amazon has avoided being charged with breaching EU law and being fined up to $50 billion by making several commitments to the European Commission today, one of which was to allow Prime sellers to “Free to choose any carrier” for their logistic and delivery services.

The registry reported late last week that it would shortly make changes to its business practices.

In a statement this morning, the European Commission confirmed the online souk’s promises to settle two antitrust investigations and could result in fines of $50 billion, or 10 percent of global revenue, if breached. The first was launched in November 2020 and examined the criteria Amazon uses when choosing which seller is allowed to lurk in the “buy box” on its website. The concern has been that Amazon favors its own listings or those of sellers using the retail giant’s logistics and fulfillment services. The EK concluded that this could lead to a “potential bias” in granting access to the Buy Box and Prime programs to sellers.

The “buy box” – which allows shoppers to simply add the product to their Amazon shopping cart – is crucial for sellers because, according to the commission at the time, it shows a single merchant’s offer for a specific product and “that generates a vast majority of all sales.”

The “buy box” is also currently the subject of a lawsuit filed by California’s Attorney General in the United States in September. The lawsuit accuses Amazon of illegally suppressing competition by penalizing merchants for selling their products at cheaper prices on other online stores by removing the “buy box” from the item page.

With today’s announcement, Bezos’ company has committed to “treat all sellers equally in the ranking of offers for the purpose of selecting the buy box winner.”

It also commits “not to use any information received through Prime about the terms and services of third-party carriers for its own logistics services” and to let Prime sellers “choose any carrier for their logistics and delivery services and negotiate the terms directly with the carrier your choice.”

The second antitrust investigation, which began in 2019 and was filed with a statement of objections in November 2020, had to do with how Amazon had “systematically relied on non-public business data from independent sellers selling on its marketplace to the benefit of Amazon’s own.” retail store that competes directly with these third parties.”

The commission found last year that Amazon’s reliance on “non-public business data from marketplace sellers to calibrate its retail decisions distorted fair competition on its platform and prevented effective competition.”

The EK said Amazon had proposed committing “not to use non-public data relating to the activities of independent sellers on its marketplace for its retail business” — nor to using it to sell branded items or its own private ones -Label products.

The commitments will cover both current and future Amazon marketplaces in the European Economic Area, the Commission confirmed.

We reached out to Amazon for comment. ® Amazon relaxes logistics and delivery rules in EU Prime • The Register

Rick Schindler

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