Researchers reveal a tactic repeated by Amazon every time a new product is successful in its store: create a copy and boost your sales.
As one of the largest online stores, Amazon hosts products from virtually all brands, and that is why your search can be as or even more influential than Google’s. How many times have we chosen a product because it appeared on the first page when we searched for a term? How many times have we entered the second page of results?
In theory, those results depend on factors such as the popularity of the product and the seller, but that may not be entirely true; In particular, if you have searched for a product and a version of “Amazon Basics” has appeared, it is possible that has been put there manually.
That is the conclusion reached by two different investigations this week. The first was published by Reutersbased on internal documents from the Indian branch of Amazon, one of the largest in the world in terms of sales volume. Amazon India would have a team dedicated to accessing usage data from Amazon.in to find out which products were succeeding, and to develop an alternative, or rather, a direct copy that mimics up to dimensions.
Some of the copied products, for example, are from a popular T-shirt brand, John Miller; The version of the shirts released by Amazon follow exactly the same measurements, in the circumference for the neck or the length of the sleeve.
The brands and stores that sell through Amazon do not have access to the same data; employees were able to study information about consumer behavior that is normally locked up. Thus they were able to identify products that are called “reference“or” benchmark, “which are” replicated. “The Solimo brand, available in Spain in thousands of products, from razors to ground coffee, will have been born from this internal Amazon program.
The second abuse of power would be in the ‘placing’ of these products in the first two or three positions of the search results when searching terms related to the copied product.
Amazon responded to the Reuters disclosures by denying them completely, stating that it believes them to be “incorrect or insubstantial,” and ensuring that it displays search results relevant to the consumer’s search, no matter what brand they are.
However, just 24 hours later The Markup has published a second investigation that delves further into how Amazon might be favoring its own products. The study looked at how Amazon search displays products, and found that it could predict that an Amazon product would rank first 7 times out of 10.
Specifically, things like the number of reviews or the number of stars received could only predict the position of the product 52% to 55% of the time, not much better than tossing a coin. Instead, 71% of the time, the fact that the product is Amazon brand or is exclusive to the online store guaranteed the first position in the results.
To this must be added the presence of a “invisible brand” in the results Search, which marks Amazon products as “sponsored” but does not display that word to the user.
The investigation also collects testimony from small sellers who found themselves successful on Amazon, only to see the company launch a product very similar to theirs and take it away from the top position in searches.
Amazon is considered one of the greats in the ‘Big Tech’, despite having been born ‘only’ as a store; therefore, it could also suffer the consequences of new antitrust laws that are being debated in the US Congress, which will make it illegal for platforms to promote their own products over those of the competition.