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Amazon ran secret store to gather intel on rivals like Walmart, Flipkart: Report

Published:

Apr 19, 2024 03:39 PM IST

The main purpose of this project was to keep a tab on the functioning of the other companies in the market, the report claimed.

Amazon reportedly ran an alleged firm, Big River, which was a fake business to spy on its market counterparts including eBay, FedEx, and Walmart. They named this operation “Project Curiosity.” The main purpose of this project was to keep a tab on the functioning of the other companies in the market, compare the experiences of third-party sellers on Amazon to those of other e-commerce sites, and get information from rivals that Amazon could use to make better and enhanced business decisions.

The Amazon logo is pictured outside the company's JFK8 distribution center in Staten Island, New York.(Reuters)
The Amazon logo is pictured outside the company’s JFK8 distribution center in Staten Island, New York.(Reuters)

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Big River sold items like t-shirts, shoes, and beach chairs on competitors’ platforms. According to the Journal, additionally, Big River created its brands to market on the marketplace websites of competitors. These include the streetwear company Not So Ape, which used a Shopify-hosted website to sell in the US, and the India-based company Crimson Knot, which sells picture frames on Flipkart.

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The people working in the fake company were advised to take screenshots of the products on different marketplaces to compare the pricing and the strategies devised by them. They had different e-mail IDs, which made it hard to track their association with Big River.

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According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon started this project in 2015. When asked about this project, one of the spokesperson from Amazon stated that this was one of the legal practices they did for comparing their products with their competitors in the market called “benchmarking.”

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