Italy's antitrust authority (AGCM) has fined Amazon €1.13 billion ($1.28 billion) for "abuse of dominant position," the second penalty it has imposed on Amazon over the last month. Amazon holds a position of "absolute dominance" in the Italian brokerage services market, "which has allowed it to promote its own logistics service, called Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)," the authority wrote in a (Google translated) press release.
According to the AGCM, companies must use Amazon's FBA service if they want access to key benefits like the Prime label, which in turn allows them to participate in Black Friday sales and other key events. "Amazon has thus prevented third-party sellers from associating the Prime label with offers not managed with FBA," it said.
The authority said access to those functions are "crucial" for seller success. It also noted that third-party sellers using FBA are not subject to the same stringent performance requirements as non-FBA sellers. As such, they're less likely to be suspended from the platform if they fail to meet certain goals. Finally, it noted that sellers using Amazon's logistics services are discouraged from offering their products on other online platforms, at least to the same extent they do on Amazon.
[...] In a statement to Engadget, an Amazon spokesperson said the company "strongly disagreed" with the decision and will appeal. It also noted that non-FBA sellers can use its Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) service, which gives them access to Prime benefits without having to use Amazon's logistics services.
We strongly disagree with the decision of the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) and we will appeal. The proposed fine and remedies are unjustified and disproportionate. More than half of all annual sales on Amazon in Italy come from SMBs, and their success is at the heart of our business model. Small and medium-sized businesses have multiple channels to sell their products both online and offline: Amazon is just one of those options. We constantly invest to support the growth of the 18,000 Italian SMBs that sell on Amazon, and we provide multiple tools to our sellers, including those who manage shipments themselves.
Amazon and Apple have been hit with almost $230 million (€203M) in total fines by Italy’s antitrust authority — following an investigation into reselling of Apple and (Apple-owned) Beats kit on Amazon’s Italian ecommerce marketplace.
The authority says the alleged collusion decreased the level of discounts available to consumers buying Apple and Beats products on the Amazon Italy marketplace.
It has also ordered the tech giants to end the restrictions on resellers.
The AGCM announced the sanction today, saying its probe identified a restrictive agreement between the pair to block some “legitimate” resellers of Beats products on Amazon.it.
The fine breaks down into €134.5M (~$151M) for Amazon — and €68.7M (~$77.3M) for Apple.
The agreement in question was signed between the pair back in October 2018.
Per the AGCM’s press release, it found the agreement contained a number of contractual clauses which prohibited official and unofficial resellers of Apple and Beats products from using Amazon.it — with the restriction limiting the sale of Apple and Beats products on Amazon.it to Amazon itself and a number of resellers the authority says were “chosen individually and in a discriminatory way” — in violation of Art. 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.