The complaint of Amazon Pantry to the Italian Antitrust Authority has provoked mixed reactions on our Facebook page. Amid the best-price loyalists and those who consider the negative impact of Amazon on society (tax evasion, exploitation of workers, winning race on traditional distribution). It is therefore worth clarifying our note to the Italian Antitrust authority (AGCM).
Amazon Pantry, how the service works
Amazon, the US giant who leads the European online market, operates in Italy through a company based in Milan and its Luxembourg headquarters.
Amazon Pantry is a platform for the purchase and at-home delivery of food and household products, born approximately 1 year ago for the premium clients (subscribers to Amazon Prime).
The Pantry system gives the consumer the opportunity to select and buy a wide range of products – food and non-food – through a dedicated section on Amazon.it. By previously accessing information on the products on sale.
Following the selection, the consumer proceeds with the payment of the purchased goods, that are placed into one or more boxes and shipped by Amazon to the selected address. The cost of shipment, €3.99, is fixed for every box.
Amazon Pantry, which products and what information?
Amazon Pantry offers a little over 1300 products at the moment, divided in 3 macro-categories (food, beverages, children and infants). For a total of 16 categories and 96 subcategories of goods.
The information available after selecting a product:
– a generic indication such as the trade name, along with the weight or number of portions in each package,
– two links, connecting to products of the same brand and to the consumer reviews of the single product,
– the price, which is sometimes compared with the unit of measurement (kg/l) or with the portion,
– the space occupied by the product, in percentage with the virtual box,
– the availability (that may be immediate or require a waiting time, usually 2-3 days),
– miscellaneous information, drawn from the label in what would seem a random assembly,
– one or more images, that are sometimes possible to enhance, as to access details of the package,
– ‘Product Information’ that changes layout with no apparent criteria. Depending on the case the name or the brand, the weight or volume of the product, name of the producer, country of origin, nutritional information. However it is rare that such information complies with the Food Information Regulation (Reg. EU No. 1169/11),
– ‘Additional Information’ such as the ASIN code (Amazon Standard Identification Number), grade point average of the votes obtained by reviews, ranking in the Bestseller section of Amazon, weight of shipment (that does not correspond to the net weight of the product), shipping restrictions, date of entry on Amazon.it,
– ‘Important Information‘. Other headings, displayed with no logical system criteria, all come with a prior notification of uncertainty and variability (’producers can change the composition of their products. Therefore the package may contain different information from the one shown on our website. Always read the label, the warnings and instructions on the product before using or consuming it’),
– ‘Product Description’, generally followed by the trade name and the weight or number of portions, with the occasional addition of diverse information.
Amazon Pantry, first remarks
Getting access to the information required as mandatory on food products, the Amazon Prime user must navigate through a maze of web pages that rarely offer a full disclosure. Inconsistency with the rules applied in Europe for the past six years (1) leaves no space for comments.
(1) See Regulation EU No. 1169/11, Articles 9,10,14.