Amazon Avoids EU Fines with Commitments to Data, Buy Box and Fulfillment Changes

Amazon has put a freeze on corporate hiring.

Amazon has reached a settlement with the European Union (EU) regarding three antitrust probes centered on the retail giant’s use of seller data, the “Buy Box” of ranked offers and shipping requirements for the Prime program. Amazon has agreed to a number of legally binding commitments to bring it in line with the EU’s regulations, and if it fails to maintain them the European Commission can impose a fine of up to 10% of Amazon’s global annual turnover.

The first probe was brought in regard to Amazon’s use of its data to push its own products and gain an unfair advantage over rivals on its platform. Amazon has agreed to refrain from using data relating to or derived from independent sellers’ activities on the marketplace in its own retail business. This includes refraining from using this data for selling its own branded or private label goods.

The second probe was concerned with Amazon’s use of the Buy Box, which generates the bulk of its sales, to potentially amplify the reach of its own products. Amazon has agreed to treat all sellers equally when ranking offers, displaying a second competing offer if there is an item from a different seller that is sufficiently differentiated from the Buy Box winner on price and/or delivery.

Additionally, both offers will display the same descriptive information and provide the same purchasing experience, and the second buy box will include a review mechanism “in case the presentation is not attracting adequate consumer attention.”


The third probe concerned Amazon’s usage of Prime as a way to potentially enable preferential treatment of both its own retail business and sellers that use Amazon’s logistics and delivery services. Amazon will remedy this issue by letting sellers under the Prime feature choose their own logistics and delivery services rather than being limited to those approved by Amazon. Additionally, Amazon will not use any information obtained through Prime about the terms and performance of third-party carriers for its own logistics services.

The Prime and Buy Box commitments will remain in force for seven years, while the other commitment will remain in force for five years.

“Today’s decision sets new rules for how Amazon operates its business in Europe,” said Margrethe Vestager, EVP of Competition Policy at the European Commission in a statement. “Amazon can no longer abuse its dual role and will have to change several business practices. They cover the use of data, the selection of sellers in the Buy Box and the conditions of access to the Amazon Prime Program. Competing independent retailers and carriers as well as consumers will benefit from these changes, opening up new opportunities and choice.”

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