Why an independent retailer association has slapped Amazon with a $1 billion-plus lawsuit

LONDON – A group representing more than 35,000 independent retailers has filed more than 1,150 pages of documents in a US$1 billion-plus claim against Amazon.

British Independent Retailers Assn. (BIRA) yesterday filed its £1 billion action against Amazon on behalf of retailers selling on Amazon’s UK marketplace for allegedly illegally misusing their data to benefit its own operation.

The lawsuit claims:

  • Between October 2015 and the present date, Amazon took advantage of data belonging to UK retailers on the company’s marketplace, non-public data that belongs solely to the retailers.
  • Amazon UK used the confidential information to decide whether to enter a new product segment itself, which elements of a product to copy, how to price an item and which consumers to target.
  • Amazon Buy Box has been manipulated to divert sales from Amazon’s UK marketplace retailers to Amazon.

Marketplace retailers in the dark

The retailers, primarily small independent UK businesses, were unaware that Amazon was illegally using their data to benefit its own retail operation, according to BIRA.

“Amazon was already charging them a non-negotiable 30% commission on every product sold on the site. By misusing their proprietary data to bring to market rival products that are sold cheaper, Amazon is effectively pushing many of the UK’s independent retailers out of the market,” the organization said.

In 2022, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opened a probe into Amazon alleging it was abusing its dominant market position by giving an unfair advantage to its own retail business and retailers that use its services over other third-party retailers on its marketplace.

“In order to avoid a full investigation and detailed decision from the CMA about its conduct, Amazon offered a number of commitments to halt these practices. It also agreed to appoint an independent trustee, approved by the CMA, to monitor the company’s compliance with its commitments going forward,” BIRA noted.

An Amazon spokesperson told Sourcing Journal yesterday that while the company had not yet seen the suit, it was likely baseless.

The new claim, the biggest collective action ever launched by UK retailers, is being brought by BIRA on behalf of retailers at the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in London.

See also:

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  • In Amazon vs. Walmart, there’s a clear winner in the home furnishings battle

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