The competition for sellers is heating up.
EBay has uncovered what it views as coordinated and international efforts by Amazon to bring sellers to its own site, according to a source familiar with the situation. The pitch from Amazon’s representatives comes in through eBay’s systems using abbreviations, including “A.M.Z.N.” and “AMZ,” to avoid easy detection and seeks to take the conversation off the platform. The practice is seen as violating California law, specifically the California Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act, and eBay’s policies.
“We have uncovered an unlawful and troubling scheme on the part of Amazon to solicit eBay sellers to move to Amazon’s platform,” eBay said in a statement. “We have demanded that Amazon end its unlawful activity and we will take the appropriate steps, as needed, to protect eBay.”
Amazon said it was “conducting a thorough investigation of these allegations.”
EBay and Amazon, as well as other platform companies such as Alibaba, JD.com and Farfetch, all rely on third-party brands to sell through their networks.
The brands are important because they bring scale to the site’s offering, bringing traffic, cross sales and a certain momentum.
But in the U.S., Amazon is the largest player by far.
Research has shown that 50 percent of all online product searches in the U.S. start on Amazon, making the company a vital link to consumers for smaller merchants and brands that don’t have the heft to build and maintain the needed infrastructure.
Amazon’s net sales increased 31 percent last year to $177.9 billion while eBay’s rose 7 percent to $9.6 billion.
Amazon has lately been working to burnish its image.
On Monday, Amazon said it would raise its minimum wage in the U.S. to $15 an hour and encouraged other merchants — which have been moving up their own wages, but not as aggressively — to follow suit.