Is Amazon a 'Retail Hacker'?
Amazon may be spying on your business. It may be crawling your website, checking your prices, and then stealing your customers. If this sounds creepy, it is.
Every week over the last few years, I have found Amazon-hosted bots crawling my 400+ retailers' web pages. I block these Amazon-hosted bots but they just keep coming back. Why do they crawl and keep coming back? Well, let's ask ourselves: what do the bots do with this data? Using what it crawls on my retailers' websites, the bots can compare prices and ensure that they offer the lowest prices. The Amazon-hosted bots use the data on my sites as retail espionage against me and my clients.
In fact, crawling pages is such a big part of Amazon's business that it penalizes its third-party sellers that don't offer the lowest price on Amazon. Here is more about Amazon's bloodsucking practices at Gizmodo:https://gizmodo.com/amazon-appears-to-have-an-innovative-approach-to-price-1836980831
I block the Amazon-hosted bots for another reason: the army of bots take up web server resources and slow down my websites for legit shoppers. I believe that it's not fair for Amazon's services to slow down my client's experience so it can steal orders from us. I checked and Amazon does not offer easy ways to stop its bots from crawling my sites.
Notably, bots that originate with Amazon Web Service (AWS) may be from a third-party hosting with Amazon, or they may be from Amazon itself. But in the manner that Amazon offers its hosting services, it's almost impossible to differentiate--and stop--the bots. Why does Amazon not make it easier to A.) Identify who the owner of the bot is? B.) Stop the bots regardless of the source?
What Amazon is enabling is like someone entering my clients' stores, checking prices, then going back to their store to lower their prices. But imagine so many spies enter your store that legit customers can't enter. Amazon helps automate this process via an army of bots that act as if they are a million in-store spies.
I believe that Amazon helps perform a type of 'retail hacking' whereby it helps gobble up your data without your permission, limits legit shoppers, and then tries to extort you. Is it any different than ransomware? I posit that Amazon helps perform: 'retailware,' a practice whereby a competitor steals your data and holds it against you until you lower your prices, dragging you both down in a price war.