Amazon Promotes Own Products, Customers Pay More
An investigation by ProPublica has found that Amazon.com's algorithms encourage customers to pay more than they need to for products. The report found that Amazon places its own products in the prominent “Buy Box” almost three-quarters of the time, even if it isn't the cheapest. If a customer bought everything recommended by Amazon’s "Buy Box," they would have paid 20 percent more than if they had bought the same products at the lowest price on the platform, according to ProPublica’s report.
Total Retail’s Take: Amazon sells products directly itself and it encourages brands to use its platform as well. The company insists that its algorithms don't favor itself, but rather products are picked to go into the “Buy Box” based on a range of factors like price, seller rating and geolocation. However, this ProPublica report found that an astounding 94 percent of sellers who were selected for Buy Box placement, but who didn’t have the cheapest listing, were either sold by Amazon itself or by companies paying Amazon. The e-commerce giant uses hidden algorithms to govern consumers’ online interactions — just like Google and Facebook.