Amazon copied products and rigged search results to promote its own brands
Thousands of pages of internal Amazon documents examined by Reuters - including emails, strategy papers and business plans - show the company ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India, one of the company's largest growth markets. The employees also stoked sales of Amazon private-brand products by rigging Amazon's search results so that the company's products would appear, as one 2016 strategy report for India put it, "In the first 2 or three search results" when customers were shopping on Amazon. The internal documents also show that Amazon employees studied proprietary data about other brands on Amazon. Amazon has been accused before by employees who worked on private-brand products of exploiting proprietary data from individual sellers to launch competing products and manipulating search results to increase sales of the company's own goods. The internal documents seen by Reuters show for the first time that, at least in India, manipulating search results to favor Amazon's own products, as well as copying other sellers' goods, were part of a formal, clandestine strategy at Amazon - and that high-level executives were told about it. "We display search results based on relevance to the customer's search query, irrespective of whether such products have private brands offered by sellers or not," Amazon said. The internal Amazon documents show that in India, Amazon manipulated search results to favor its own products.