Walmart and Target’s Retail Trade Group Helps Antitrust Enforcers Investigate Amazon and Google

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ByAndrea
July 02,2019

A leading U.S. retail group says that it’s prepared to offer their assistance to antitrust investigators set to look into the alleged “anti-competitive conduct” by Google and Amazon.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) represents Target, Best Buy, and Walmart and is ready to offer its insights to the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. 

“It’s pretty clear to us that the FTC and different relevant regulators should be taking a much closer look at these platform companies,” said Nicholas Ahrens, vice president of innovation for

Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), in an interview. “We are here to help.”

RILA has joined an avalanche of companies such as Yelp, News Corp., Oracle, and Tripadvisor in an effort to provide key information against Google and Amazon. Taking part in an ongoing investigation, this retailers’ group commented on the competitive harm the dominant tech platforms present before the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee.

On Sunday, RILA wrote a letter to the FTC, suggesting the tech platforms are creating an “information bottleneck,” with enough power to skew markets and evade the traditional power of price competition. 

RILA also cited its concerns over Silicon Valley’s most prominent companies favoring their own products over those of other retailers selling on their platforms. The tech giants also collect data on competitors and might be using it to enable the proliferation of counterfeit goods.

It should be “quite concerning to the commission that Amazon and Google control the majority of all internet product search, and can very easily affect whether and how price and product information actually reaches consumers,” the trade group said in a letter, responding to a series of hearings the agency held on competition policy.

Amazon and Google’s representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The FTC will oversee the investigation into Facebook and Amazon, while the Justice Department is set to probe Google and Apple, Bloomberg has reported. 

Last month the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee launched an extensive antitrust investigation into the tech industry, scheduling a hearing on the way Google and Facebook have affected the news industry.

RILA also pointed to Amazon’s dominance in the field of eCommerce, where it accounts for almost 50% of U.S. online sales. 

Amazon, both a marketplace for third-party sellers and a retail giant, has drawn scrutiny over whether it’s using the abundance of sales data to prioritize its own products over those of smaller vendors. The EU is already investigating the issue and has prompted calls to break up the online retailer and other tech platforms.

Amazon claims it’s only behind a small percentage of the total U.S. retail market and even suffers strong competition from the likes of Walmart.

“RILA does not file this comment to complain about competition from Facebook, Google, Amazon, Visa, or any other technology or payments platform,” the group said. “Indeed, retail leaders comment to ask for more competition, not less. But all competition must be on a fair and level playing field.”

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