Amazon is going to be investigated again. This time by the Bundeskartellamt in Germany, whose job it is to protect competition in Europe’s largest country by population. Will they deem Amazon’s role as an online retailer whilst simultaneously having their marketplace open to outside vendors legal or not?
Amazon is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition as an online store in Germany. It easily ranks first in the top 10 online stores in Germany, and generates an annual turnover of €8.8 billion. At the same time, Amazon operates the largest online marketplace in Germany. This is something that doesn’t make the Bundeskartellamt too happy. The Federal Cartel Office of Germany wants to examine the terms of business and practises towards sellers on Amazon.de.
Duplicity Hurting Sellers
Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt, had this to say:
“Many retailers and manufacturers depend on the reach of Amazon’s marketplace for their online sales. Amazon functions as a kind of ‘gatekeeper’ for customers. Its double role as the largest retailer and largest marketplace has the potential to hinder other sellers on its platform. Because of the many complaints we have received we will examine whether Amazon is abusing its market position to the detriment of sellers active on its marketplace. We will scrutinize its terms of business and practices towards sellers.”
What They Are Looking For
The Bundeskartellamt wants to look at things like liability provisions that put sellers at a disadvantage. They also want to investigate Amazon’s rules on product reviews, the non-transparent seller account blocking and delayed or even withheld payments. The Bundeskartellamt argues that, because Amazon holds a dominant position on the market and that the sellers are dependent on them, this gives relevance to their investigation.
The European Commission Also Has Amazon Under Scrutiny
The Bundeskartellamt isn’t the only organisation looking at Amazon’s business practises. The European Commission is also scrutinising Amazon by having sent out quite lengthy questionnaires to several hundred retailers in Germany last summer. The European Commission investigation is primarily concerned with Amazon’s use of data to the disadvantage of its marketplace sellers.