In joint comments submitted this fall to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in regards to the agency’s latest hearings on “Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century,” Advocates for Independent Business members voiced concern that concentrated market power and Amazon’s growth in particular are obstructing their member businesses’ ability to conduct business online.
The letter specifically outlines support for Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra’s proposal for the FTC to use its rulemaking authority to make antitrust policy more effective.
The group also encourages the agency to conduct a study of the e-commerce industry, which the comments note is a “pivotal, fast-growing sector” with significant implications for independent businesses across the economy.
Such a study would naturally focus on Amazon, which captures over 50% of all searches online and uses its market power to extract unfair terms from independent businesses and its third-party sellers, as demonstrated by testimonials from AIB member businesses outlined in the group’s comments:
“Amazon’s significant data advantages and network effects create barriers for other platforms to emerge. This lack of competition has allowed Amazon to abruptly and unilaterally change its terms and fees for third-party sellers. Amazon raised the fees for its warehousing and delivery services by as much as much as 14 percent this year for standard-sized items, in addition to similar increases in 2017. As one of our members reported, the company’s pricing terms mean ‘all the profit would shift from the local dealer to Amazon.'”
Finally, the letter details a growing sense among prominent leaders in the U.S. and around the world that Amazon is wielding its power to impair competition.
AIB members that signed onto these comments include the American Booksellers Association, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, Brixy, Independent Office Products & Furniture Dealers Association, North American Retail Hardware Association, and the Running Industry Association.
In addition to these most recent comments to the FTC, AIB members have jointly submitted letters calling for strong antitrust enforcement to Congress, such as those sent to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s office in 2017, and supporting fair and open e-commerce platforms, such as those made to the U.S. General Services Administration in early 2018.
Advocates for Independent Business (AIB) is a coalition of 11 national trade associations that collectively represent tens of thousands of independent businesses across the country. Together, our member businesses employ hundreds of thousands of people, serve millions of consumers, and are an important part of the economic vitality of their communities and regions.