Germany’s antitrust authority launched an investigation into whether US e-commerce giant Amazon is exploiting its market dominance in its dealings with third-party retailers who use its website as a marketplace.
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office said in a statement Thursday that it had received many complaints from merchants about Amazon’s business practices of late.
“Amazon acts as a kind of ‘gatekeeper’ for customers. The dual role it plays as the largest merchant and largest market means there is potential to bar other merchants on the platform,” said the president of the cartel office, Andreas Mundt.
Mundt said the investigation would examine the business conditions Amazon imposes on merchants who use its site, including a lack of transparency about how it terminates merchant relationships, late payments and shipping conditions.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on the proceedings, beyond saying that it was fully cooperating and would continue to work to support the growth of small and medium-sized businesses.
The European Commission is also investigating Amazon’s dual role and is asking retailers and manufacturers if sales of Amazon’s own-brand products similar to theirs have hurt their business.
Germany is Amazon’s second largest market. It has faced a long battle with unions in the country over pay and conditions for logistics workers, who staged another round of strikes last week.
The cartel’s office said the investigation into Amazon will seek to address any violations of German competition or antitrust law, but does not foresee significant fines unless they are seen as part of a final decision requiring a company to end any abusive practices. From the market.
Researchers will contact retailers using Amazon’s platform and examine their contracts.
The German antitrust regulator is also investigating Facebook after discovering that the social media giant abused its dominance in the market to collect data about people without their knowledge or consent. His opinion is expected in the new year.