According to reports, Amazon India copied products and manipulated search results

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Photographer: Thorsten Wagner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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According to a report citing internal documents by Reuters on Wednesday, Amazon’s Indian branch is involved in a systematic activity of copying products sold by third-party sellers and then manipulating search results to support its own products.

The article stated that in a 2016 document called the “India Private Label Program”, Amazon’s private label team in India explained in detail how it will review sales and customer review data to determine which “references” to copy brand”.

According to Reuters, in one case, Amazon employees noticed an increase in the return rate of a shirt produced by its own brand clothing brand due to size issues. According to reports, the team found a best-selling brand and modified the fit of the shirt to match its size.

According to a Reuters report, Amazon’s team in India also uses a technology called “search seeds” and “sparks” to try to promote the company’s private label products in search results. According to Reuters, “search seeds” allow Amazon to ensure that new products are the second or third result in a search query, and “sparks” are banners above the search results.

According to Reuters, Amazon’s senior executives, including Diego Piacentini, who once led the company’s international operations, and Russell Grandinetti, senior vice president of international consumers, are all aware of Indian business practices. Piacentini reports to executive chairman and founder Jeff Bezos, and Grandinetti is a member of an influential key executive team supervised by CEO Andy Jassy.

The Reuters survey results directly contradict Amazon’s previous information on how it develops its own-brand products. Over the years, Amazon has launched its own private label products under the AmazonBasics brand, offering everything from furniture to clothing. It also offers private label products of other brands.

Companies peddling goods on Amazon have previously questioned how the retail giant launched its own products, and some people claimed that Amazon directly removed their products.

Amazon executives, including Bezos, insist that it is against company policy to use data from third-party merchants to build future products. Bezos told a congressional committee in July 2020 that Amazon has a policy to protect seller data from being accessed by employees.

“If we find that someone has violated it, we will take action,” Bezos said at the time.

Amazon representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the full Reuters report here.

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