At roundtables with its sellers, the people said, Amazon has learned that many had been defecting to Shopify because of increasing fees from Amazon, which on average collects 30% of each sale on its platform from outside vendors, up from 19% five years ago, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Shopify collects 2.9% plus 30 cents a transaction.
Earlier this year, Amazon created a top-secret task force dedicated to studying the Canadian company and copying parts of it, said the employees. To lead the team, Amazon tapped Peter Larsen, a longtime executive and vice president, consumer. Mr. Larsen recruited dozens of executives, who have signed nondisclosure agreements to work on the project. Internal chat boards are filled with other Amazon employees digging for information on "Project Santos," the employees said.
Amazon and Mr. Larsen declined to comment on Project Santos. Shopify didn't respond to requests for comment.
In October, the team presented its work to Mr. Bezos, who was enthusiastic that the project could help stem the defection of sellers to its Canadian rival, said the employees. Amazon hasn't launched the project yet, they said.
Mr. Larsen's direct reports have cryptic descriptions in their LinkedIn profiles about what they are working on. One lists "new things on the horizon," while another writes "Good things are happening."
--Sebastian Herrera contributed to this article.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 22, 2020 10:40 ET (15:40 GMT)Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.