Amazon has been fined $ 1.3 billion (€ 1.1 billion) by antitrust regulators in Italy. The company is accused of using its dominance in the online shopping world to trick Italian sellers into using its logistics department, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). Amazon says it will appeal the decision.
The fine is one of the largest imposed by a single EU country in a years-long battle over competition concerns online. Amazon and Apple were both fined last month by Italian antitrust regulators for allegedly plotting to limit the supply of Apple and Beats products. But that fine only totaled $ 77 million (€ 69 million) for Amazon – a drop in the bucket compared to today’s judgment. (The two companies are currently disputing the case.)
In the latest decision, the Italian antitrust watchdog, Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato or AGCM, is particularly concerned about the benefits Amazon offers to sellers on its platform who also pay to use its logistics service. FBA. Sellers registered with Fulfillment by Amazon can tag their products with the Prime fulfillment tag and participate in Amazon events such as its Black Friday, Prime Day, and Cyber Monday sales.
“The investigation established that these are functions of the Amazon.it platform that are crucial for the success of sellers and for increasing their sales,” ACGM said in a statement (translated via Google). “In doing so, Amazon has hurt competing e-commerce logistics operators by preventing them from offering themselves to online sellers as service providers of a quality comparable to Amazon’s execution. These behaviors have widened the gap between the power of Amazon and that of the competition also in the sector of online order delivery.
The ACGM says the amount of the fine reflects the seriousness of Amazon’s strategy and its duration over many years. In addition to paying the fine, Amazon must change its business practices in Italy, granting all third-party sellers on its platform the same “sales and visibility privileges” whether or not they use Fulfillment by Amazon. Amazon has a year to comply with those rulings – unless, of course, it manages to appeal.
In a press release (via Engaged), the company said: “We strongly disagree with the decision of the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) and we will appeal. The fine and the remedies proposed are unjustified and disproportionate.