Amazon employed a campaign of creating copycat merchandise and manipulating search results to give its own products an advantage in India, according to a new report from Reuters.
The news agency said on Wednesday (Oct. 13) that an examination of thousands of internal Amazon documents found that the company’s private brands team in India exploited internal data to copy products from other companies before offering them on Amazon.
Employees also fueled sales of Amazon’s private-brand products by rigging search results so those products would appear “in the first two of three … search results,” a 2016 strategy report said.
According to Reuters, these documents also showed that Amazon employees studied proprietary data about other brands, such as customers’ return information, in order to identify what it called “reference” or “benchmark” products.
In addition, the 2016 report found that employees working on Amazon’s private-label brands had planned to work with the manufacturers of the products it planned to duplicate, after learning about the “unique processes which impact the end quality of the product.”
From the document: “It is difficult to develop this expertise across products and hence, to ensure that we are able to fully match quality with our reference product, we decided to only partner with the manufacturers of our reference product.”
According to Reuters, the documents show Amazon engaging in practices it has for years denied.
Testifying before Congress last year, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos says the company forbids employees from using individual seller data to boost its private-label operations.
This news comes less than a month after a report that Amazon was investigating whether its legal representatives in India had used company money to bribe government officials in an incident tied to a whistleblower case.
Amazon, along with Walmart’s Flipkart, is also facing an antitrust investigation in India connected to its eCommerce practices. Earlier this year, the Competition Commission of India said it would investigate whether the companies promoted select sellers on their platforms and employed behavior that hampered competition