Amazon Pressured Ex-Trader Joe's Employee for Data

Amazon hired an ex-Trader Joe's employee to access company secrets and replicate products from the grocer.

In 2016, Amazon launched its very own private-label brand, Wickedly Prime, to compete with other private-label stores like Target and Trader Joe’s.

In order to get a head start in the game, the company hired a former senior manager from the Trader Joe’s snack division. This would have been a brilliant hire if the intentions weren’t so nefarious. 

The Amazon private label department reportedly hounded and pressured the employee to obtain data on Trader Joe’s best-selling snacks and margins for each product that performed well for the store. This was done to have a leg up over Trader Joe’s, a seasoned veteran in the space.

Here are the Facts

  1. Amazon hired a former senior manager from Trader Joe’s snack division.

  1. The employee reported she was recruited to help create a new private-label product line for Amazon.

  1. Amazon wanted to replicate the top 200 Trader Joe’s products.

  1. Trader Joe’s data is not publicly available; Amazon wanted to have private access to it.

  1. Amazon pressured the employee to give this data up over a six-month time period.

  1. Due to the consistent pressure, the employee eventually gave over the requested data. This included any emails and documents she still had access to.

  1. Amazon then pressured the employee to release data on the margins of each product.

  1. The employee refused to do so, at which point the employee was yelled at by an Amazon manager (according to another source who saw the interaction).

  1. The team at Amazon began distributing the private data before an employee reported the use of data to Amazon’s legal department.

  1. All employees who accessed the data were eventually fired.

This information was published by an expert in the former Trader Joe’s employees book, giving an inside experience of Amazon’s broad and aggressive efforts to compete with other grocery stores. 

Amazon has prepared to launch its own line of household and food products as early as 2015, even filing for trademark protection in more than 20 product categories, from pasta and coffee to cleaners and razors. 

Amazon even acquired Whole Foods in 2017 and was able to cut costs at the grocery store, causing more than 10% of Trader Joe’s customers to defect to Whole Foods. 

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