EU antitrust office takes a second crack at redesigning Amazon

EU antitrust office takes a second crack at redesigning Amazon

Commissioner Vestager is trying again after her first attempt to redesign Amazon’s website site failed in July.

EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager is taking a second shot at forcing Amazon to redesign its website, according to a report in POLITICO. The European Commission aims to implement a design that’s fairer for small vendors, the article says.

The Commission asked Amazon to draw up a plan that would address small vendor complaints in July, but the solution suggested by Amazon failed to pass muster.

The European Commission’s antitrust enforcers are locked in a long-running battle with Amazon over how to reconfigure the website in a manner that ensures smaller vendors can compete fairly with products directly sold by the e-commerce giant itself.

Forcing a giant to ‘play nice’

The competition problem Vestager is trying to crack is whether Amazon is abusing its ubiquitous presence as a platform to give undue prominence in web displays to its own goods — or those sold by companies with special arrangements with Amazon — to the detriment of independent rivals.

A first attempt to close the Commission’s twin investigations into Amazon’s practices failed in July when Amazon’s settlement offer was slammed by campaigners as “vague and full of loopholes”. Vestager told POLITICO last month that there had been “room for improvement” in the initial deal it struck with the US tech giant.

Now, POLITICO says, she is “having a second go” at the redesign. Last week, Brussels circulated a revised settlement offer to market rivals and customers, according to two people who spoke to POLITICO on condition of anonymity because the process is shrouded in confidentiality.

The improvements suggested in this second attempt aim to ensure users of Amazon can find products from third-party sellers more easily, rather than having to scroll further down the page to find a deal they’d like to snap up. It now remains to be seen whether Amazon’s rivals and civil society groups will be impressed by this second attempt at a website redesign.