Amazon, the country's largest eCommerce player, has seen retailers in Austria file a complaint with their country's competition authority over the company's roles as both a retailer and a marketplace. Amazon's business model is structured so that it sells products directly to consumers and enables third-party merchants to hawk their own products in its marketplace.
According to a report in Reuters, Austria's Federal Competition Authority (BWB) confirmed that retailers filed a complaint. “We have received a complaint. We are examining it,” said a spokeswoman for the BWB. The report noted the main concern is that Amazon operates dual roles that could hurt competition.
The Austrian Retail Association said in a statement that "Amazon can, in theory, see the prices of the listed retailers (on its platform), undercut their prices and in the long run attract all that business.” The trade group noted that 93 percent of all Austrian online shoppers have made at least one purchase on Amazon. A spokesperson for Amazon declined to comment on the report, noted Reuters.
The complaint filing comes at a time when Amazon is facing increased scrutiny in Europe. Earlier this month, Reuters reported that European lawmakers voted to spruce up legislation aimed at tech giants to put a stop to unfair business practices. The draft legislation targets companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple. A European Parliament committee voted in favor of making the law stronger. It includes proposals to require companies to set up Chinese walls (information barriers) between subsidiaries and to make them acquire merchants’ consent before making use of data. The proposed legislation would also give authorities more power to punish rule breakers, and include a blacklist of unfair trading practices. The legislation aims to stop unfair business practices from eCommerce and hotel booking sites, search engines and app stores to ensure an equal playing field between tech companies and traditional businesses.