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GUEST COMMENT 5 types of external data that power your ecommerce strategy

In the aftermath of 2020, the ecommerce landscape competition became fiercer than ever before. Aside from pricing and product strategies, ecommerce players looking to outperform competitors need real-time data incorporated into their plans over the short and long term.

Most professionals familiar with ecommerce data scrapingknow the value of pricing, best-seller and category data. There is no doubt that these fundamental factors are integral to a successful ecommerce strategy.

But what about other sources of data that give insights into the greater economic picture? External data that provides critical information about retail trends, consumer behaviour, supply chains and macro-economics can give ecommerce businesses an edge over the competition. This article will teach you precisely what that data entails, where to find it, and how you can use it to create strategies to surpass the competition and thrive over the long term. 


What is External Data?

External data is economic, financial and political information that is published outside a company or governmental organization. It goes above and beyond regular economic reports to provide timely and unique insights that aren’t easily obtained from traditional sources. Five types of data to incorporate into your ecommerce strategy include: 


1. Consumer Behaviour Insights

Where are consumers shopping? How much is the average size order per industry sector? When do people shop, and at what times during the year?

These questions and more are answered through data aggregation services that scrape public websites and collect information from applications. Along with scraping data that contains product and pricing information, information about consumer behaviour helps ecommerce businesses tailor their strategy to capture the maximum market share within their sector. 


2. Retail Trend Data

What are people buying? Have consumer preferences shifted towards certain types of products? Is the current recession causing a shift from certain types of products to others? 

Retail trend data gives us an overall view of where consumer income is going. Combined with insights into consumer behaviour, information on retail trends gives ecommerce businesses a comprehensive idea of how the entire sector is shifting according to consumer preferences, variation in income and other factors that determine how money is being spent both on and offline.


3. Brand Popularity and Sentiment

Consumers of all ages are buying online more than ever, and ecommerce businesses need to leverage the power of brands to maximize sales. 

Brands mean more than just logos and slogans. They demonstrate product quality, company values and ethics. Millennials and younger generations are especially concerned with issues of sustainability and environmentalism. They demand products that are produced fairly and are even willingto take a hit on their investment returnsto ensure their dollars go to corporations that take ethics seriously.

With that in mind, data mining from websites and applications can give insights into which brands are skyrocketing in popularity and which ones are on a downtrend. Ecommerce businesses looking to create next-level product strategies can ultimately benefit from data that gives insights into the most in-demand brands and products. 


4. Supply Chain Data

Many products are created with materials sourced from different parts of the world while being produced at locations thousands of miles away from where they are sold.  The mechanism underlying the entire process – known as the supply chain – is vulnerable to policies that interfere with the free-flow of goods across borders.

One of the most profound impacts of Covid-19 has been the strain placed on supply chains. The most visible result was that some products became harder to find and shipping times were increased. According toUniversity of California Associate Professor Danko Turcic, this caused “previously unseen disruptions in both supply and demand.”

Ecommerce businesses in specific sectors, such as technology and healthcare equipment, can benefit from data that identifies supply chain vulnerabilities. By obtaining these critical insights, these businesses can outsource multiple suppliers, ensuring they receive products in a timely fashion according to their customers’ demands. 


5. Macro-Economic Trends

The digital transformation of commerce has enabled businesses to easily cross borders and tap into new markets. Ecommerce stores looking to expand into new geographical areas need critical information before investing in the infrastructure required to serve a new group of customers in a different country.

Macro-economic trends give us an overall view of the retail health of a country and its potential. Data in this category can include such factors as:

  • Changes in gross domestic product (GDP)
  • Retail spending trends
  • Unemployment rates
  • Balance of trade (imports vs. exports)
  • Changes in currency valuation

The economic landscape continues to expand across borders to include more people as they come online. Ecommerce businesses can leverage the power of external macro-economic data to extend their operations into more markets with greater confidence than ever before. 


Obtaining External Data

External data is undoubtedly one of the newest weapons of choice for crafting precision ecommerce strategies. It can be obtained in a variety of ways that include:


Data Service Providers

Data sets can be purchased or provided in real time through an application programming interface (API) by data service providers. These companies use data mining, IoT, and applications to collect and compile data sets across most industries and sectors. 


In-House Web Scraping

Companies with the available resources can create an in-house web scraping operation that allows complete control over the process and type of data obtained. Along with writing scripts, in-house operations require eitherdatacenter and/or residential proxiesto act as intermediaries between the requesting party and the host server. 


Ready-To-Use Web Scraping Tools

Ecommerce businesses looking to leverage the advantages of customized data extraction without the costs of purchasing expensive data sets can opt for ready-to-use data extraction solutions. Besides giving them control over the type of data obtained, ready-to-use tools allow businesses to forgo the complexity of the data extraction process and focus resources on obtaining valuable insights from data analysis. 

To find out more about the ways to collect external data, join a free online conference Oxycon in August. The two-day event is designed to give a comprehensive view to web scraping – from the discussions on the importance of external data to the newest trends and tips for developers.


Wrapping Up

Web scraping can be used to extract information that goes beyond product and pricing. External data providing consumer behaviour, retail trend, branding, supply chain and macro-economic insights empowers ecommerce businesses with the insights required to create precision strategies that maximize sales, increase profits, and ensure the business succeeds in the future.


Gediminas Rickevičius, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Oxylabs

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