Amazon faces new antitrust case, more than 2,000 online sellers move CCI, report says


New Delhi: A group of over 2,000 online sellers has moved the Competition Commission of India (CCI) with an antitrust case against Amazon in India, a Reuters report said citing legal documents.

The All India Online Vendors Association alleged in its August 10 filing that the e-commerce giant favors certain retailers who offer online discounts that push independent sellers to shut down their businesses, according to the report.

The group claimed that Amazon India’s wholesale unit buys products in bulk from manufacturers and then resells them at a loss to sellers like Cloudtail. These sellers then offer products on Amazon.in at “big discounts”, according to the report.

“This anti-competitive arrangement…causes a foreclosure of competition by driving independent sellers out of the market,” the report cited the group in its filing.

The ICC can dismiss the case or order a wider investigation after reviewing the case, she added.

In an emailed statement, an Amazon spokesperson told ThePrint: “Amazon.in is pure 3P [third party] market. Sellers on Amazon.in have absolute discretion to decide what products to sell and their prices. Amazon complies with all applicable country laws and operates the marketplace with a high degree of transparency and consistency.

The Reuters report quoted a Cloudtail spokeswoman to say that the vendor is in “compliance with all applicable laws in its operations.”


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Other allegations

It’s the latest in a series of regulatory battles Amazon is facing in India, where it has committed a $6.5 billion investment.

In January, the ICC ordered an investigation into Flipkart, owned by Amazon and Walmart, for accusations that the e-commerce companies violated competition standards and discount practices. Amazon disputes the CCI’s investigation, the report says.

India last year tightened rules to discourage deep discounts on e-commerce sites, but small sellers say Amazon is using a ‘complex’ commerce structure to circumvent those restrictions, an allegation the company denies .

In its new ICC filing, the All India Online Vendors Association also alleged that Amazon charges “lower fees to screened sellers”, making it difficult for independent online sellers to compete on the platform.

The group alleged that Cloudtail, described as “one of Amazon’s biggest sellers in India”, pays a 6.3% royalty to Amazon for electronic goods. However, independent sellers pay around 28.1%.

Amazon did not respond to ThePrint’s question about the allegation regarding the disparity in fees charged by different sellers.

However, its spokesperson said, “Amazon Wholesale Pvt Ltd (AWIPL) operates a B2B marketplace (amazondistribution.in) where 3.5 lakhs of small and medium-sized offline sellers purchase different categories of products for resale to customers or for institutional consumption. Any B2B seller can register and buy from Amazon distribution.


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