People working closely with Amazon squealed on the tech giant’s alleged tactics to prioritize its own products in search results.
Amazon’s A9 team, which handles the company’s search engine, revealed to the Wall Street Journal that Amazon made changes to its search algorithm late last year to boost the visibility of its own products.
In an exclusive interview, A9 told WSJ that Amazon’s retail team pressured its engineers to favor the company’s private label products in search results.
However, A9 refused because it goes against the principle of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. It’s no secret that the online retail giant’s head honcho has admitted many times his obsession with customer experience and trust.
Prioritizing Amazon’s private-label brands in search results instead of showing what’s relevant to customers’ queries could get the company in even more trouble with antitrust regulators, according to an insider.
Being a retailer and running an online marketplace at the same time has put Amazon under government scrutiny. Lawmakers have grilled the company about how it uses other sellers’ data to gain the upper hand over them.
“This was definitely not a popular project. The search engine should look for relevant items, not for more profitable items.” – A9
Amazon: Change in search algorithm includes long term profitability
An Amazon spokeswoman told WSJ that the company considers the impact of long-term profitability when deploying an algorithm. She made it clear, though, that Amazon doesn’t make decisions based on this one metric.
“We have not changed the criteria we use to rank search results to include profitability. Amazon designs its shopping and discovery experience to feature the products customers will want, regardless of whether they are our own brands or products offered by our selling partners.”
“When we test any new features, including search features, we look at a number of metrics, including long term profitability, to see how these new features impact the customer experience and our business as any rational store would.” – Angie Newman, Spokeswoman, Amazon
However, she refused to discuss the inner workings of the company’s search algorithm nor comment on A9 engineers’ claim that profitability was indeed the motive of the change to the algorithm.
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