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Amazon has long been suspected of using their home-field advantage to see which 3rd party products are popular with customers and then copying those products for their own-brand offerings.
Now an investigation by Reuters managed to uncover a trove of documents from Amazon India which appear to confirm those allegations.
They managed to get their hands on thousands of pages of internal Amazon documents including emails, strategy papers and business plans which confirms the company ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India.
One 2016 strategy said the knock-offs should be “in the first 2 or three … search results” when customers were shopping on Amazon.in.
The aim was to identify and target goods – described as “reference” or “benchmark” products – and “replicate” them.
Jeff Bezos has previously denied that Amazon uses this strategy, telling US Congress in sworn testimony that Amazon prohibits its employees from using the data on individual sellers to help its private-label business.
The leaked documents however show that two executives reviewed the India strategy – senior vice presidents Diego Piacentini, who has since left the company, and Russell Grandinetti, who currently runs Amazon’s international consumer business.
In a written response to questions for this report, Amazon said: “As Reuters hasn’t shared the documents or their provenance with us, we are unable to confirm the veracity or otherwise of the information and claims as stated. We believe these claims are factually incorrect and unsubstantiated.”