Amazon and eBay next vying for the assault on ACCC’s digital platforms

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Screenshot: Asha Barbaschow / ZDNet

Online retail marketplaces operating in Australia such as eBay, Amazon, Catch.com.au and Kogan are the latest companies to come under the microscope of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the dog guard being concerned about potential competition and consumption issues in this context. space.

After announcing in August that it would take this route as part of its investigation into digital platform services, ACCC released a new question paper [PDF] who hopes to gather information on online retail markets, before preparing a report for the treasurer in March 2022.

“While general online retail markets provide benefits to sellers and consumers, concerns have been raised with the ACCC about the conduct of certain markets and the risk of harm to sellers and consumers,” a- he declared. “These include concerns about the display of merchandise from sellers and the timeliness of payments for sellers; and for consumers, the level of support provided by the markets in the event of litigation as well as problems with the quality of the goods. “

The ACCC said it was also aware of the potential future risks posed by online marketplaces “because of their ability to play a gatekeeper role, allowing them to exert some market power and extract value. growing number of sellers and consumers, potentially raising prices “.

See also: Kogan fined AU $ 350,000 for offering ‘discounts’ on inflated products

Specifically, the watchdog wants to understand potential competition and consumer protection issues from the perspective of sellers, consumers, and anyone else who considers themselves relevant to the investigation.

Concerned about competitive pressure from Amazon, ACCC is asking for comment on the extent to which online marketplaces compete with third-party sellers who sell directly from their own online stores.

It also asks whether the competition, or potential competition, in the provision of online marketplace services has been affected by the acquisitions of technology platforms and companies, including startups, acquisition or development. new technologies and expansion in Australia for international companies.

The ACCC will also examine the extent to which physical sales, online sales directly from a retailer’s website, comparison or referral services, and classifieds competitively restrict general online retail markets.

To complete its 37 questions, ACCC wishes to explore the increased collection and use of consumer data and the more precise targeting of consumers enabled by this collection.

“The collection and use of consumer-related data (including market data and other sources) can benefit sellers and online retail markets in general by enabling them to tailor offers to the consumer, allowing consumers to see which products may be more relevant to, however, this also increases the risk of harm to consumers due to exclusionary targeting (i.e. businesses that do not deliberately serve advertisements to those consumers). consumers or a segment to which the consumer belongs), exploitation and price discrimination, ”the concept paper said.

“Additionally, ACCC is aware of concerns expressed in other countries about certain digital platforms using data collected from third-party vendors to advance their own products at the potential detriment of their rivals.”

The ACCC therefore seeks information on the amount and type of data collected during a consumer’s use of these platforms, including who has access to that data and the degree of transparency provided to the consumer on how the markets and / or third party sellers use this data.

For 2020, eBay Australia reported gross revenue of AU $ 6.5 billion, Amazon reported AU $ 2.6 billion, Kogan with just under AU $ 1.1 billion and Catch generated 610 million Australian dollars.

ACCC accepts submissions until August 19, 2021.

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