Amazon offers commitments about Marketplace rules to address CMA concerns

July 28, 2023

In response to competition concerns raised by the CMA, Amazon has offered commitments not to use Marketplace seller data and to treat all sellers’ offers equally when selecting which to feature in the ‘Buy Box’.

The CMA considers that these commitments would ensure third-party sellers’ product offers have a fair chance of being prominently displayed to customers in the ‘Buy Box’ on a product page when they are competing against Amazon’s own product offers. The commitments also aim to prevent Amazon from using data that it obtains from third-party sellers to give itself an unfair competitive advantage.

The CMA started an investigation in July 2022 into concerns that Amazon was abusing its position as the UK’s leading online retail platform by giving an unfair advantage to its own retail business over competing sellers that use Amazon Marketplace, or to sellers that use Amazon’s own warehousing and delivery services, rather than rival logistics businesses.

The CMA’s preliminary view is that the offer from Amazon addresses its competition concerns and the CMA is now consulting on the commitments put forward before deciding whether to accept them.

The commitments propose to:

  • Ensure Amazon does not use rival sellers’ Marketplace data to gain an unfair advantage over other sellers. This follows concerns that Amazon’s access to gain commercially sensitive data relating to third-party sellers helped its retail business to decide which products to sell, manage stock levels for those products, set prices and make other important commercial decisions.
  • Guarantee all product boxes are treated equally when Amazon decides which will be featured in the ‘Buy Box’. This relates to concerns that products are being offered by third-party sellers were less likely to appear in the Buy Box than similar offers from either Amazon’s own retail businesses or third-party sellers that use Amazon’s delivery services.
  • Allow third-party businesses using Marketplace to negotiate their own rates directly with independent providers of Prime delivery services so that customers can benefit from lower delivery costs where better rates are negotiated.
  • Require Amazon to appoint an independent trustee who will monitor the company’s compliance with these commitments. The CMA will have a direct say in this appointment, with the aim of ensuring they have the necessary skills and expertise for the job.

The CMA is now consulting on Amazon’s proposed commitments. It says that if they are accepted, this would avoid having it pursue a potentially lengthy investigation and would lead to earlier changes that would benefit businesses and consumers. The CMA has not made any finding at this stage of the investigation that competition law has been infringed.