German antitrust authority, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, has ‘initiated an abuse proceeding’ into Amazon’s treatment of third-party sellers on the website Amazon.de.
According to the Federal Cartel Office, Amazon’s ‘double role as the largest retailer and the largest marketplace has the potential to hinder other sellers on its platform’.
The Federal Cartel Office, also known as Bundeskartellamt, president Andreas Mundt, said: “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.”
In the statement, the antitrust authority has also listed retail practices that might be considered abusive, including withholding payments, blocking sellers accounts without explanation and use of sellers’ information.
Amazon will now be closely examined by the office, to find out if the retailer’s dominance is hurting online retailers, and if sellers have become dependent on Amazon to make sales.
Amazon told Associated Press it will ‘cooperate fully with the Bundeskartellamt and continue working hard to support small and medium-sized businesses and help them grow’.
Amazon allows third-party sellers to sell their products alongside Amazon’s products through its online store.
According to Amazon, its marketplace gives small retailers an opportunity to access its hundreds of millions of customers. Amazon also says that its marketplace helped third-party sellers in Germany sell more than €2.1bn worth of products in 2017.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Britain’s competition watchdog, said it was eyeing the situation in Germany and planned to consult with other national authorities.
The CMA said: “Promoting competition in digital markets is one of the CMA’s priorities. Technology has transformed some markets, and brought with it benefits such as increased choice and convenience, but it also gives rise to some risks to competition. We engage with other national authorities and will note the outcome of the German investigation.”
The German investigation into Amazon practices comes after the European Commission said in September it planned to investigate Amazon’s use of data it holds on third-party sellers using its platform, and whether it uses this data for its own unfair advantage.
Meanwhile, The Federal Trade Commission, a US competition regulator, has launched an investigation into Amazon’s approach to antitrust enforcement, prompted in part by concerns about Amazon’s use of data.