Amazon is displaying its own private-label products on competing product pages, directly above where consumers would click to add an item to their cart, and labeling them as a “Similar item to consider,” The Washington Post reports.
The promotion, which was found in “dozens” of product searches on Amazon, presented Amazon’s own comparable products on pages for Glad trash bags, Energizer batteries, Nicorette gum, and Dr. Scholl’s gel insoles. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to tell The Washington Post whether the feature is permanent or a test, how many competing products Amazon is using the tactic on, and if the e-tailer is including any products from other firms as similar items to consider.
Here’s what it means: Amazon is again leveraging its control over its marketplace to promote its private labels after scaling back such efforts.
Amazon has used similar tactics to drive consumers to purchase its private labels at the expense of merchants on its marketplace in the past. The e-tailer previously had its private labels show up directly under comparable non-Amazon products in its search, with the label “Similar item from Our Brands.”
It also tested a feature where shoppers on its mobile app who were on a product page were shown a pop-up for comparable, lower-priced items that were reportedly often from Amazon’s private labels. Amazon was said to be rolling back these efforts in April, but the appearance of this new promotion may signal renewed interest in pushing its private labels.
The tactics can prove extremely beneficial for Amazon, as it can win more sales for its own brands and secure more revenue, but it risks alienating sellers it competes with and raising concerns among antitrust regulators.
The bigger picture: Amazon is arguing that this practice is the same as the tactics used in most stores, but antitrust regulators might not see it that way.
- Amazon spokeswoman Nell Rona told The Washington Post, “Like any retailer we promote our own brands in our stores, which provide high-quality products and great value to customers.” Physical retailers have long showcased their own products in-store, and Amazon appears to be arguing that showing its own brands on competitors’ product pages is essentially the same tactic.
- But there are some key differences in Amazon’s situation, and they may be relevant to US and EU regulators’ investigations into Amazon over antitrust concerns. Amazon has tremendous controlof e-commerce sales and product search, magnifying the impact of its promotions. And when one of the comparisons pops up, Amazon is creating a head-to-head decision for consumers that’s unique to e-commerce, since consumers aren’t just viewing two items in-store. All of this may bother antitrust regulators that are concerned about Amazon leveraging its position as both a marketplace and a seller on the marketplace, and it could lead to sanctions against the e-tailer.
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