Ebay, Amazon, Catch and Kogan are in the ACCC’s cross hairs, with the competition watchdog launching a probe into online marketplaces.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is set to examine concerns around whether the platforms use their dominance and data to squeeze sellers and consumers.
ACCC head Rod Sims said the market power wielded by online marketplaces globally, in particular the dominance of online giant Amazon, had lead to problems in overseas jurisdictions and these problems were just emerging in Australia.
“It’s a huge problem overseas, particularly as these platforms get more powerful,” he said. “It comes with market power.”
While Amazon was “still pretty small in Australia”, Mr Sims said online marketplaces were growing quickly and had boomed in the wake of COVID-19, with Australia’s biggest retail sites used by more than 12 million people every month to shop and sell goods.
Australians spent a record $50.5 billion online in 2020, compared with $27.5 billion in 2018 with online purchases increasing by 57 per cent.
“It’s a huge problem overseas, particularly as these platforms get more powerful.”
ACCC chair Rod Sims
“We want to make sure we’re well ahead of those issues because once they get away from you, they’re very hard to pull back,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC’s issues paper published on Thursday outlines key areas for investigation by the regulator, including how customer complaints and guarantees are dealt with and whether online platforms are using data to understand which products sell well and why, and then replicating the products themselves in direct competition with smaller merchants on the platforms.