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Amazon India halts ‘search-seeding’, denies deploying tools favouring merchant listings

The step comes at a time when e-tailers are facing rigorous regulatory scrutiny over various practices, particularly over having lopsided contracts favouring some merchants. A merchant, who sells independently on the marketplace and also supplies to Amazon-backed seller firms, said he has used seeding to improve search results.

Updated: Dec 11, 2019, 12.13 PM IST
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(This story originally appeared in on Dec 09, 2019)
BENGALURU: Amazon is halting the use of an important tool called “search-seeding” that helped decide which products appear first in searches on its India marketplace. Two sources aware of the development said “search-seeding”, as it is called by Amazon executives, has over the past few months been disabled on Amazon India.

Search-seeding boosted the chances of products appearing on the coveted first page of results. Amazon India, on its part, has said, “it does not provide any tool to sellers that can manipulate the ranking of shopping results”.

The step comes at a time when e-tailers are facing rigorous regulatory scrutiny over various practices, particularly over having lopsided contracts favouring some merchants.

A merchant, who sells independently on the marketplace and also supplies to Amazon-backed seller firms, said he has used seeding to improve search results. “We were provided with search word-based analytics on the platform about twice a month, which helps sellers using those keywords to appear on top results,” the merchant said.

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He was, however, informed last month by an Amazon executive that search-seeding has been disabled since it was being abused by various merchants. “Without it, my products hardly appeared on the top results and one has to opt for other tools like sponsored advertisements,” he added.

This had a direct impact on sales. Amazon has over 5,00,000 sellers in India, which explains why it’s important for sellers that consumers see their product first. “Search-seeding helps you appear on the first couple of pages once someone is looking for a certain product. Keywords used to list that particular product are a critical part of searchseeding,” the merchant said.

Amazon does not disclose its search algorithm on the marketplace. “We design our shopping and discovery experience to feature the items customers will want to purchase from sellers selling on our marketplace,” a spokesperson of Amazon said.

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