Amazon Destroyed Brands By Copying Their Products, Manipulating Search Results
It has emerged that Amazon India imitated items sold by third-party sellers and then manipulated search results to prioritise its own products.
The findings come from a 2016 document, titled “India Private Brands Program”.
In it, Amazon’s private label team in India revealed how it would identify “reference brands” to duplicate by reviewing its sales and customer review data.
Indian users may recognize one such private label called “Solimo”.
A direct effect of its promotional tactics have been the expansion of sale of Solimo-branded products to the United States.
How It Did It
In an example, employees noticed an increase in returns of a shirt made by one of its private-label clothing brands due to sizing issues.
It then found an outselling brand and revised the fitting to match that brand’s measurements.
Teams further used techniques called “search seeding” and “sparkles” in order to boost the company’s own products in search results.
Through “Search seeding” it put new products in the second or third result in search queries.
“Sparkles” refers to banners that are located above search results.
Kishore Biyani-Led Company Affected
These practices harmed the business of other sellers.
One victim of such practices has been John Miller, a popular shirt brand in India owned by a Kishore Biyani-led company.
Amazon targeted the company and copied its products measurements down to the neck circumference and sleeve length.
Top Executives Knew
High-ranking Amazon executives were found to have been aware of such business practices in India.
One such is Diego Piacentini, who previously led the company’s international business and reported to Jeff Bezos.
Another is Russell Grandinetti, senior VP of international consumer who is part of an influential team of key executives overseen by CEO Andy Jassy.
The findings in the report directly contradict messages put out by executives including Bezos that it’s against company policy to use data from third-party merchants to build future products.
Bezos told a congressional committee in July 2020 that Amazon’s policies safeguards seller data from employee access.
He further said that it took action against those who violated such policies.
It is expected that these revelations could tighten the legal and regulatory pressure the company is facing in many countries.