Amazon writes back: “Use of store data is the norm across retail”

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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Amazon has responded to the House Judiciary Committee with its own letter that says the retailer will “remain fully committed to cooperating” and “welcome continued dialogue” regarding its seller data and how they develop private brands.

Amazon also said they have been working with the committee for nearly a year and “remain prepared to make the appropriate Amazon executive available to the committee to address these issues.”

That last statement directly responds to the letter the House Judiciary Committee sent on May 4 requesting Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to testify in regards to allegations that the retailer uses third-party seller data to influence the design and development of its private brand launches. 

The letter from the House Judiciary Committee repeatedly referenced an article run by the Wall Street Journal that investigated Amazon’s practices around third-party seller data and how it allegedly informs how it develops its private brands.

In its letter, Amazon targeted the article saying, “that article confirms that any employee alleged to have accessed non-public data of an individual seller would have done so only with full knowledge that doing so would violate the policy. The article also conflates broader product pricing and top-seller data readily available to all and the individual seller data our policy protects."

Use of store data is the norm across retail, where Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Kroger, and Costco use store data to develop and sell private brands.
Brian Huseman , in the Amazon letter

Perhaps even bolder, however, Amazon covered in the letter how it compares to traditional retailers, saying, We appreciate the opportunity to address questions about Amazon’s policy on seller data, which, like other retailers, we use to improve the customer experience in our stores. Use of store data is the norm across retail, where Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Kroger, and Costco use store data to develop and sell private brands.”

Amazon also said in the letter that its goal is to provide customers with good service, selection and lower prices. “As part of our commitment to serving customers, like other retailers, we make use of data to improve the customer experience in our stores,” said the letter penned by Brian Huseman, vice president, public policy, Amazon. “For example, we are constantly seeking to innovate to make the shopping experience easier and more convenient, and store data and trends help us to improve the customer experience.” 

The letter references Amazon’s “Seller Data Protection Policy,” maintaining the retailer has put in places steps that give sellers comfort regarding their individual data and that the retailer prohibits Amazon’s private brand products business from using individual sellers’ data to decide which products to launch and it is also prohibited from using data to make sourcing, pricing, or inventory decisions for its private brand products.

Read the full letter from Amazon here.