Amazon’s India engaged in a systematic campaign of copying items sold by third-party sellers and then manipulated search results to favor its own products, according to a Reuters report cites internal documents.
In a 2016 document, titled “India Private Brands Program,” Amazon’s private label team in India detailed how it would review sales and customer review data to identify “reference brands” to replicate
In one case, Amazon employees noticed an uptick in returns of a shirt made by one of its private-label clothing brands due to sizing issues,the team reportedly found an outselling brand and revised the fit of its shirt to match that brand’s measurements.
Amazon teams in India also worked to boost the company’s private label products in search results, using a technique called “search seeding” and “sparkles,” according to Reuters. “Search seeding” allowed Amazon to ensure that new products were the second or third result in search queries, while “sparkles” are banners that are located above search results, Reuters reported.
High-ranking Amazon executives, including Diego Piacentini, who previously led the company’s international business, and Russell Grandinetti, senior VP of international consumer, were aware of the business practices in India, Reuters said. Piacentini reported to founder and Executive Chairman Jeff Bezos, and Grandinetti is part of an influential team of key executives overseen by CEO Andy Jassy.