Thursday 10 June 2021 10:38 am

UK competition watchdog 'to probe Amazon buy box’

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is planning to formally investigate competition at Amazon, according to reports this morning.

The investigation comes amid a similar ongoing one by the EU into Amazon. 

The UK competition watchdog, which has been analysing the online retailer for months, has focused on how Amazon uses data collected on its platform and how the global tech giant decides which merchants appear in its “buy box”. 

A crucial selling feature, the “buy box” is the white panel on the right-hand side of a product, where buyers click to add to their shopping basket. 

An investigation into Amazon may look at whether or not the company unfairly favours merchants that use Amazon’s logistics and delivery services when deciding who can access the buy box and its Prime customers, according to a report in the Financial Times. 

The UK investigation is likely to cover similar ground to the two currently open investigations under way in Brussels, it is reported. 

One of the EU investigations is looking at how Amazon is using data to advance its own products to the potential detriment of rivals. 

Although the probe is at advanced stages, it may run for a further year or more as the EU has struggled to understand Amazon’s algorithm and gather enough evidence about it, according to reports. 

The second, less advanced, investigation, is scrutinizing Amazon’s criteria for the use of the buy box.

The UK watchdog is reportedly keen to build a portfolio of cases against Big Tech companies. Anti-competition investigations have been launched by both the UK and the EU into another Facebook. 

An Amazon spokesperson said the company will continue to “support the tens of thousands of UK small and medium-sized enterprises that account for more than half of everything we sell in our online store” but could not comment on any alleged investigation.

UK selling partners sold more than 600 million products on the platform according to Amazon. The company announced plans earlier this year to add 10,000 new permanent jobs bringing its total UK workforce to over 55,000 earlier this year.

The CMA said all of its existing cases are available online and it could not speculate on any others. At the time of writing, the CMA have not listed any official case into Amazon on it’s website.