Amazon’s Indian division reportedly copied third-party sellers’ products before rigging the search results, according to Reuters.
The division engaged in a systematic campaign of copying products that were being sold by third-party sellers on its own platform before manipulating the search results to favour its own items.
In documents shared with Reuters, “India Private Brands Program” referenced Amazons’ private label team in India and detailed how it would review sales and customer data to identify “reference brands” to replicate products from.
In one of the cases, employees noticed a rise in returns of a specific shirt made by one of its private-label clothing brands due to sizing dissimilarities.
The documents claimed that the team reportedly found an outselling brand and revised the fit of its shirt to match that brand’s measurements.
In order to boost the sales of the company’s own label products in search results, the Indian team used techniques called “search seeding” and “sparkles”, Reuters reported.
“Search seeding” ensures that new products are the second of third search result, while “sparkles” are the banners that are located above the search results.
Some of the company’s high ranking executives including Diego Piacentini, who was in charge of Amazon’s international business, and Russell Grandinetti, senior vice president of international consumer were aware of the practise.
Both executives reported closely to founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos.
For years Amazon has launched private-label goods under the banner of its AmazonBasics range, which includes everything from clothing to furniture.
Businesses have previously questioned where the ecommerce giant gets its inspiration for some of its private-label goods, with some claiming that the company directly rips off third-party sellers’ designs.