Product rankings on marketplace websites run by Amazon, eBay and Kogan are the latest focus of scrutiny of online algorithms by the consumer watchdog.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is considering whether Australia needs new regulations for digital marketplaces and other platforms.
He is increasingly concerned about the algorithms used by digital platforms and recently secured tens of millions of dollars in fines against travel site Trivago and ride-sharing and food delivery app Uber.
Digital marketplaces offer sellers an easy way to reach potential buyers. However, there are concerns that product ranking algorithms could impact the choice of consumers and third-party sellers who list their products online, ACCC President Gina Cass-Gottlieb said Thursday.
“They should explain to consumers and sellers why their search functions and other tools promote certain products over others,” she said.
Sites like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace operate like newspaper classifieds and facilitate private sellers who primarily sell second-hand items.
Websites like Kogan, Catch, and Amazon operate hybrid marketplaces, selling products themselves and allowing other sellers to list their own items.
That means they could have a conflict of interest and potentially give their own products an advantage over those of other sellers, Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.
A spokesperson for eBay Australia told AAP that the company shares the ACCC’s concerns about hybrid marketplaces potentially exploiting data to favor their own products.
The company brought these concerns to the ACCC during the investigation, but does not engage in the practice itself as it is purely a third-party online marketplace that partners with companies that sell on his site.
Internationally, Amazon has been accused of placing its private or proprietary label versions above the products they copy.
The offers presented on Amazon in Australia are determined by what it thinks customers will prefer, whether sold by Amazon or a selling partner, the company said.
“The vast majority of customers who take the time to compare all of the offers not shown ultimately select the offer we’ve shown on the product page, confirming that we’re doing a good job predicting what customers want,” Amazon Australia told public policy director Michael Cooley at AAP.
Sellers also have data and analytics tools, including the number of customers viewing their products and their conversion rate.
The ACCC notes that there is no dominant online market in Australia, but it is possible that the market will swing in favor of one in the future, which would concern the consumer watchdog. it reduced competition.
All online marketplaces are growing compared to traditional retailers that operate online.
Amazon is growing the fastest, nearly doubling its sales in the previous fiscal year.
Catch and Kogan have also been contacted for comment.
Australian Associated Press