The Polish Competition Authority opens an investigation into an e-commerce platform’s possible abuse of its dominant position (Allegro)

Following the inspection conducted by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection ("UOKiK") in Allegro in July 2017, UOKiK has opened an antimonopoly investigation into Allegro’s practices that may violate both Polish and EU competition law.

In its press release, UOKiK notes that Allegro has a dual role as an e-commerce platform, as it operates the platform and also sells products as a retailer. Thus, Allegro competes with other retailers on its platform, in particular through its own online shop known as the Official Allegro Shop.

UOKiK also states that Allegro is the most popular online shopping platform in Poland and that 79% of consumers prefer to buy products from Allegro rather than from other e-commerce sites (Kantar’s survey conducted in 2019 at UOKiK’s request).

UOKiK is therefore investigating whether Allegro abuses its dominant position by favouring its own sales over the sales of other retailers on the platform. UOKiK notes that such practices "could have adversely affected the competitive situation of independent online shops whose products may have been less visible on the platform and less frequently chosen by consumers". In particular, UOKiK refers to the following practices:

  • Allegro might have used information on the platform’s operation, including the relevancy algorithm, unavailable to other retailers, to better the position of its own offers in the search results;
  • Allegro might have used exclusive promotional banners and exclusive sales or promotional features to increase interest in its own offers. For instance, consumers searching for a product via search engines could have been suggested to go only to the Official Allegro Shop.

In its press release, UOKiK explicitly refers to the European Commission’s decision in Google Shopping (Case AT.39740) and its investigation into Amazon’s practices.

Nevertheless, UOKiK will need to balance protecting platform transparency and platform competitiveness against protecting independent online shops operating on the platform. It will also need to consider the fact that Allegro’s practices may not result in any appreciable reduction of competition as the Official Allegro Shop generates less than 1% of the total sales from Allegro’s platform.

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Marcin Alberski, Piotr Dynowski, The Polish Competition Authority opens an investigation into an e-commerce platform’s possible abuse of its dominant position (Allegro), 10 December 2019, e-Competitions December 2019, Art. N° 93730

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