accc, digital

Australian online marketplaces including eBay Australia, Amazon Australia, Kogan and Catch.com.au are set to face a probe from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over competition concerns.

The Commission said it is looking to collect submissions from consumers, platforms and third-party sellers of all sizes to inform the inquiry, as well as share their experiences with marketplaces.

The investigation will look into marketplaces and their relationships with third-party sellers and consumers, as well as how these marketplaces affect competition in Australian markets.

The ACCC said more Australians are turning to online shopping due to COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns, with online purchases growing 57 percent in 2020 year-on-year, spending $50.5 billion online at the time. In comparison, 2018 recorded $27.5 billion in online purchases.

“These online marketplaces are an important and growing segment of the economy, so it is important that we understand how online marketplaces operate and whether they are working effectively for consumers and businesses,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“We want to be sure that the rules that apply to traditional retail are also complied with in the online context. We are keen to hear about the experiences of Australians, both consumers and businesses.”

The ACCC will specifically look into pricing practices, the use of data, the terms and conditions imposed on third-party sellers, and the impacts on competition when the marketplace itself operates as a seller on the platform.

Consumer issues to be considered include the ability of customers to leave and read reviews of sellers and products, how complaints are handled and how consumers’ data is collected and used. Marketplace services, market structures and how the markets work will also be examined.

“Online marketplaces offer many benefits to consumers who can shop around for a variety of products in one place, and for sellers which may be able to contract out services such as warehousing, packing, and shipping to the marketplaces,” Sims said.

“But we would expect the marketplace to operate fairly for businesses and consumers alike and comply with consumer laws and competition laws.”


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