Amazon's Covert Operation 'Big River' Gathered Intel On Rivals For Nearly A Decade: Report

Amazon Inc. AMZN has been reportedly gathering intelligence secretly on its competitors for nearly a decade under the guise of Big River Services International.

What Happened: Big River Services International, a covert arm of Amazon, has been selling goods through various e-commerce platforms, including eBay, Shopify, Walmart and Amazon itself, generating around $1 million in annual sales.

Originating from a 2015 plan code-named “Project Curiosity,” Big River uses its sales data to gather information about rival e-commerce marketplaces, logistics operations, and payment services, The Wall Street Journal reported. This intelligence is then utilized by Amazon to guide its business decisions.

The revelation of Big River’s activities offers new insight into Amazon’s efforts to stay ahead of its competitors like Walmart. The operation’s team members attended rivals’ seller conferences and met with competitors, identifying themselves only as employees of Big River Services.

Senior Amazon executives, including Doug Herrington, Amazon's current CEO of Worldwide Amazon Stores, were reportedly regularly briefed on the Project Curiosity team's work.

"Benchmarking is a common practice in business. Amazon, like many other retailers, has benchmarking and customer experience teams that conduct research into the experiences of customers, including our selling partners, in order to improve their experiences working with us," Amazon’s spokesperson told Benzinga.

See Also: Telegram Founder Tells Tucker Carlson That Billion-User Platform Operates Lean, HR-Free With Only 30 Staff: ‘I Am The Only Product Manager’

Why It Matters: As the largest U.S. e-commerce company, Amazon is currently facing antitrust charges from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and 17 states. The charges accuse Amazon of behavior that harms sellers on its marketplace, including anti-discounting measures.

Amazon’s strategic efforts have been focused on countering the rise of emerging e-commerce platforms like Temu and Shein, which have gained significant traction in the U.S. market. Additionally, Amazon has been boosting its cashierless tech in stores to outdo Walmart’s retail game.

Meanwhile, Walmart has been proving itself as a worthy opponent to both Amazon and Google with its AI-powered search engine contribution to the grocery shopping revolution.

Read Next: Tesla CEO Elon Musk Disagrees With Nvidia’s Jensen Huang That Anyone Can Make Their Own Neural Network: ‘It’s Insanely Hard’

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