Cheat 'em to beat 'em: Amazon India caught rigging the game against successful retailers

Jimmy2x

Posts: 42   +4
Staff
A hot potato: Companies worldwide spend uncountable hours and dollars to design, develop, produce, and market their product lines. A key factor for success is finding a fair, reliable marketplace to reach customers and make those products available. Unfortunately, a recent investigation has revealed that Amazon India may not be the fair marketplace retailers hoped.

Reuters Investigates team poured through thousands of internal Amazon India documents and uncovered a plan designed to identify successful "reference" and "benchmark" products from other retailers, then leverage proprietary data to create its own in-house offerings. The project also identified and established relationships with the manufacturers of those goods to ensure parity with the original items while controlling production costs.

Other parts of the plan encouraged the manipulation of Amazon India's website algorithms and data to ensure its products would appear in search results more frequently. A 2016 strategy report showed that the India private-brands team rigged the system so that the first two to three search results would return in-house products.

According to Nate Sutton, associate general counsel during Amazon's 2019 congressional hearing, Amazon's search algorithms are "...optimized to predict what customers want to buy regardless of the seller." However, the documents that Reuters exposed directly contradict this statement showing Amazon India's manipulation of results for its own benefit.

Former employees have accused the company of using two specific manipulation techniques, search seeding and search sparkles, to enhance Amazon's product availability. Seeding alters search ranks by ensuring the seeded product appears within the first few results. Sparkles appear directly above search results as banners, which may not actually be part of the query.

Amazon has faced accusations of leveraging internal customer and partner data to create and market its own products on more than one occasion. In 2013, Amazon came under fire for creating copycat services based on existing AWS customers' products. Then last year, a Wall Street Journal article again reported the company's propensity to use third-party data to enhance its product offerings. In the report, former Amazon employees detailed how Amazon used seller information to determine product pricing, earning potential, and whether or not to enter specific product segments.

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m4a4

Posts: 2,615   +3,225
TechSpot Elite
One of the main problems with participating in your own marketplace.
Apple has been known to do it for apps, Amazon definitely does it most often (along with Alibaba and the like), don't remember if there was anything recent for Google though...

Though, if there is one upside I can see with this, is that if they rip it off right, they can do so with improving upon the original (better for the consumer).
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 676   +509
We had a local article here in NZ how the supermarkets ( we only have 2 big companies ) stifle innovation .
A small company does a lot of R&D , market research etc - comes up with a new food line .
Supermarkets with their feelers get wind of it . Quickly copy it - little R&D etc with their Store Brand.

Yes before you claim Capitalisms is great - who can afford the lawyers?

Saw a story a week ago about FB ( I know SFA about FB ) - some guy had an app to remove auto feeds ( he took a laborious manual process and may be easy ) - basically you now control what you look at - FB threaten him - he backed down from a very winnable case .


TL/DR - this crap stifles innovation
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 928   +821
Australia's 2 main supermarket chains have 85% of the market. In Japan they have something like 50-60 chains and no one has more than about 10% of the market. They have competition, we don't. Amazon AU are an utter joke. They promised a revolution and instead delivered a POS that is higher priced than most local stores and only stocks a tiny fraction of Amazon US.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 676   +509
Australia's 2 main supermarket chains have 85% of the market. In Japan they have something like 50-60 chains and no one has more than about 10% of the market. They have competition, we don't. Amazon AU are an utter joke. They promised a revolution and instead delivered a POS that is higher priced than most local stores and only stocks a tiny fraction of Amazon US.
I've only bought a couple of things of Amazon Aust. it really is lackluster - suppose free shipping in Aust for some larger stuff must be a slight perk .
I'm quite food adventurous - so living in London for awhile 30 years ago was nice .
I suppose Sydney and Melbourne can offer more choice to the well off at least .
USA was funny in my travels - some areas would struggle to buy non-std white rice or say german like bread . In another you would struggle to buy wonder/bimbo white bread ( just don't = it's low grade ). Also States few nationwide supermarkets ( safeway was one ) - so ended up lots of loyalty cards in my travels

Least you have Aldi in some places