After spending years promising Congress that the data it collected from third-party sellers wasn’t used to beef up its private-label products, today Amazon decided to roll out a product meant to do exactly that. The Amazon Shopper Panel, as it’s called, promises to pay Amazon customers that offer intel to the ecommerce giant about where they shop when they’re not shopping on Amazon dot com.
Here’s how the Shopper Panel works: After getting an IRL or e-receipt from any business that isn’t owned by Amazon (so Whole Foods or Four Star locations are not eligible), panelists can either submit a picture of that receipt through the app, or in the case of digital copies, forward their emailed details to a panel-specific email address. According to the Panel website, folks that upload “at least” 10 receipts per month can either cash that in for $10 in Amazon credit or $10 donated to their charity of choice. Along with that baseline payout, the app will also dole out additional earnings to panelists who answer the occasional survey about certain brands or products within the app.
Not every receipt counts toward this program. Per Amazon, receipts from grocery stores, drug stores, restaurants, and movie theaters—along with just about any other “retailer” or “entertainment outlet”—are fair game. Receipts from casinos, gun stores, transit fare, tuition or apartment rentals aren’t.
While the program is invite-only for now, any curious Amazon customer based in the U.S. can download the Panel app from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store if they want to put their name on the waitlist.
nder the Amazon Panel site’s “Privacy” tab, the company notes that any receipts that you share will go toward “[helping] brands offer better products and [making] ads more relevant on Amazon.” The company also notes any data gleaned from these receipts or surveys might also be used to “ improve the product selection on Amazon.com and affiliate stores such as Whole Foods Market,” and to “improve the content offered through Amazon services such as Prime Video.”
That’s why this rollout is a particularly gutsy move for Amazon to take right now. Recent months have seen the company come under an increasing barrage of regulatory fire from authorities both in the U.S. and in Europe over a scandal that largely revolved around tracking consumers’ purchase data—not unlike the data pulled from the average receipt—on its platform. This past spring, an investigation from the Wall Street Journal revealed that Amazon had spent years surveilling the purchases earned by the platform’s third party sellers specifically to create its own competing products under the Amazon private label. This story came out barely a year after Amazon’s associate general council, Nate Sutton, told Congress that the company didn’t use “individual seller data” to do just that.