Italy’s antitrust authority said Amazon was offering incentives to sellers that used its logistics service, impacting competitors in the market.
Amazon has been fined €1.13bn – one of the biggest penalties imposed on a US tech company in Europe – by the antitrust regulator in Italy for abusing its market dominance.
The company was accused of using its dominant position to steer sellers into using its logistics service, Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), by offering incentives such as access to Amazon Prime customers.
Sellers signed up to FBA can mark their goods with the Prime label, allowing them to participate in special events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Prime Day, and increasing the likelihood of these sellers becoming featured on the website.
“In doing so, Amazon has harmed competing e-commerce logistics operators by preventing them from proposing themselves to online sellers as providers of services of a quality comparable to that of Amazon’s fulfilment,” Italy’s antitrust watchdog said.
“These conducts have thus widened the gap between Amazon’s power and that of the competition also in the e-commerce order delivery business.”
Amazon said it “strongly disagrees” with the decision and plans to appeal the fine, adding that FBA is a “completely optional service” that isn’t used by most third-party sellers.
“When sellers choose FBA, they do so because it is efficient, convenient and competitive in terms of price”, the company said in a statement given to Reuters. “The proposed fine and remedies are unjustified and disproportionate.”
The fine comes just a few weeks after Amazon and Apple were fined more than €200m by the Italian antitrust body for allegedly hindering competition in the sale of Apple and Beats products on Amazon’s Italian website.
The Italian authority said in its decision today (9 December) that Amazon had an “abusive strategy” with FBA.
“As a result of the abuse, competing marketplaces have also been damaged; due to the cost of duplicating warehouses, sellers who adopt Amazon fulfilment are discouraged from offering their products on other online platforms,” it said.
The authority added that a fine of more than €1bn was appropriate given how long it had been conducted, the damage caused and the size of Amazon’s business. It has also imposed behavioural measures on Amazon to try restore competitive conditions in this market.
Last year, the European Commission hit Amazon with antitrust charges and opened an investigation into the company’s use of marketplace seller data.
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