SME retailers plot £1bn action against ‘abusive’ Amazon

amazon 2A group of independent British retailers has launched what is claimed to be the biggest ever retail class action in the UK against Amazon, demanding £1bn in compensation for pushing them out of its online marketplace.

The claim, being brought by about 35,000 retailers and spearheaded by the British Independent Retailers Association, alleges that between October 2015 and 2024, Amazon used non-public data belonging to the retailers to inform the launch of its own rival products.

It also claims that Amazon manipulated access to its “buy box”, the white panel to the right-hand side of a product where buyers click to add the item to their cart and where most sales on the platform take place.

The group maintains that Amazon was already charging its members a “non-negotiable 30% commission on every product sold on the site” and claims that, by “misusing their proprietary data to bring to market rival products that are sold cheaper, Amazon is effectively pushing many of the UK’s independent retailers out of the market”.

The industry body added: “The consequences of Amazon’s abusive conduct have been to inflate its profits and harm the UK retail sector, especially the smaller independent retailers who are struggling at a time of difficult economic circumstances.”

The BIRA said it plans to lodge more than 1,150 pages of evidence with the Competition Appeal Tribunal to suport its the claim.

Cheif executive Andrew Goodacre said: “One might ask, why would an independent retailer use Amazon if it is so damaging to their business? In reality, we have seen a significant shift in consumer buying behaviour and, if small businesses want to sell online, Amazon is the dominant marketplace in the UK.

“As a result, for small retailers with limited resources, Amazon is the marketplace to start online trading.”

In response, Amazon said it had not seen the complaint, but that, based on what it had seen in the media it was confident that it is baseless and that this will be exposed in the legal process.

A spokesperson added: “Over 100,000 small and medium-sized businesses in the UK sell on Amazon’s store, more than half of all physical product sales on our UK store are from independent selling partners, and the fact is that we only succeed when the businesses we work with succeed.”

Once the documents have been filed, the Competition Appeal Tribunal will then decide whether the case should be “certified”, meaning it can proceed to trial.

The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority kicked off a formal investigation into how Amazon uses the data it collects on its platform back in 2021, while Brussels launched a similar probe into how the company is using data to advance its own products to the potential detriment of rivals. The results of both investigations have yet to be published.

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