The German competition authority (Bundeskartellamt) recently launched a survey intended to assist it in assessing the impact of the price parity policy of Amazon.de on retailers offering products on online marketplaces (such as eBay).
The Bundeskartellamt states that Amazon.de’s price parity policy requires that the price of each product that a retailer offers Amazon.de should not be higher than the retailer’s lowest offer for that product through any other non-physical sales channel. Specifically, both the ‘total’ price (i.e., the total amount payable by a customer including delivery charges) and the ‘item’ price (i.e., the price of the product itself) that the retailer lists on Amazon.de should not be higher than the lowest price offered through any other non-physical channel. Both Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.fr also maintain price parity policies.
In the announcement accompanying the launch, Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt, expressed concern that this price parity policy could limit the freedom of retailers to set pricing and the competition between various online marketplaces, particularly in relation to new entrants. He noted that Amazon may be required to delete the price parity clause if the Bundeskartellamt’s investigation shows that the policy is anticompetitive.
The web survey was sent to 2,400 randomly selected retailers offering products on the Amazon.de marketplace, requesting responses no later than 22 February 2013.