Amazon has agreed to make major changes to its business practices to settle antitrust investigations that found the e-commerce giant gave itself an unfair advantage over rival merchants, European Union regulators said Tuesday.
Amazon promised to give products from rival sellers equal visibility in the “buy box,” a premium piece of real estate on its website that leads to higher sales.
The company also pledged to stop using “non-public data” from independent sellers on its platform to provide insights into its own products to compete against those merchants. Amazon also agreed not to discriminate against sellers in its Prime membership service and let Prime members freely choose any delivery service.
The commission said it has accepted the commitments from Amazon, which allows the company to avoid a legal battle with the E.U.’s top antitrust watchdog that could have ended with huge fines, worth up to 10% of its annual worldwide revenue.
“We are pleased that we have addressed the European Commission’s concerns and resolved these matters," Amazon said in a prepared statement.
The agreement only applies to Amazon’s business practices in Europe and will last for seven years.
“Today’s decision sets the rules that Amazon will need to play by in the future instead of Amazon determining these rules for all players on its platform," the EU's competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said at a press briefing in Brussels. “With these new rules, competing independent retailers, carriers and European customers will have more opportunities and choice.”
The deal comes after Amazon offered concessions in July to resolve two EU antitrust investigations. Under the agreement announced Tuesday, Amazon made improvements to those initial proposals after the commission tested them out and received feedback from consumer groups, book publishers and academics.