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Amazon does require UPCs (barcodes) but somehow I've seen some products listed by my competitors that I know don't have UPCs.
Yes, Amazon competes with small merchants.
Yes, Amazon WILL outrank (especially after Panda/Penguin) your site in Google for your product KW, both in free SERPs and on G Shopping.
Yes, Amazon uses fulfillment to spot new best selling products and WILL sell those themselves.
Personally, I think Amazon should have to charge tax for every item in their stores since they have so many affiliates across the country. That should slow their sales just a bit.
Seller C is applying an excessive markup, and Seller A is taking a loss on this individual item in order to further long-term plans.
We stopped selling about a year ago on Amazon. At one point we had 5000+ different products listed. Amazon over the last 3 years went from carrying ZERO to carrying 95% of our products, all at or near our cost.