Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Report made adjustments to its product-search system to more prominently feature listings that are more profitable for the company, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people who worked on the project.
Amazon emphatically denied the charge, however, in a tweet on Monday afternoon. "We have not changed the criteria we use to rank search results to include profitability," the company wrote. "We feature products customers want, regardless of whether they are our own brands or products offered by our selling partners."
According to The Journal's report, Amazon "optimized the secret algorithm that ranks listings so that instead of showing customers mainly the most-relevant and best-selling listings when they search -- as it had for more than a decade -- the site also gives a boost to items that are more profitable for the company."
The report said the adjustment was made late last year and came after a battle between executives who run the retailer's retail businesses in Seattle and a search team in California called A9, which was opposed to the change.
"The people who worked on the project said they didn't know how much the change has helped Amazon's own brands," according to the Journal.
In a statement to the Journal, Amazon spokeswoman Angie Newman said the retailer hasn't changed the criteria it uses to rank search results to include profitability. "Amazon designs its shopping and discovery experience to feature the products customers will want, regardless of whether they are our own brands or products offered by our selling partners," Newman wrote.
Amazon shares were down 1.7% to $1,807.84 in trading on Monday.