German regulatory officials have launched an investigation to find out whether Amazon’s business practices toward sellers in its marketplace are unfair.
Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, announced the probe Thursday after receiving “many complaints” from sellers claiming Amazon abused its power.
Andreas Mundt, president of Bundeskartellamt, said in a statement that Amazon’s “double role as the largest retailer and largest marketplace has the potential to hinder other sellers on its platform.”
Germany’s investigation will supplement a broader probe launched by the European Union in September. The EU is looking into how Amazon treats third-party retailers, seeking to find out whether the company is using seller data to gain an advantage for the products it sells directly. If, for example, a product in a third-party seller’s store is popular, Amazon could potentially replicate it and sell it for a lower price. The German investigation is more narrowly focused on Amazon’s terms of business and practices toward sellers in the country.
“Please understand that we do not comment on ongoing proceedings,” Amazon said in a statement provided to GeekWire. “However, we will cooperate fully with the Bundeskartellamt and continue working hard to support small and medium-sized businesses and help them grow.”
Germany is Amazon’s second largest market, according to Reuters. European regulators have been increasingly scrutinizing American tech companies, which continue to land in hot water over their use of customer data and their marketplace dominance.
“Amazon is the largest online retailer and operates by far the largest online marketplace in Germany,” Mundt said. “Many retailers and manufacturers depend on the reach of Amazon’s marketplace for their online sales. Amazon functions as a kind of ‘gatekeeper’ for customers.”