Amazon lets third-party sellers offer lower prices on rival sites

It could be in response to political concerns.

Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images

Amazon just made online shopping slightly more competitive. A Reuters source has learned that the internet heavyweight has stopped telling third-party sellers that they're forbidden from offering lower prices at rival sites. The insider didn't explain why Amazon made the move, and Amazon declined to comment on the decision. However, it follows political inquiries that might have put pressure on the company to take action.

Senator Richard Blumenthal wrote to the FTC Commission Chairman in December arguing that Amazon's policy could "stifle" competition and "artificially inflate prices" for shoppers. While it's not certain that the FTC intended to investigate, Amazon's relaxed approach could address potential criticism by allowing sellers more flexibility in where and how they pitch their goods -- and, of course, lower prices for customers in the process.

The company has faced multiple investigations into the competitiveness of its sales over the years, including Kindle book pricing and its discount policy. Whether or not that history played a role in the policy shift, it likely wasn't keen on drawing more attention to its behavior.