Is your ecommerce enterprise leveraging the power of external data to enhance decision-making, maximise profits, and expand your business? If not, you may be getting left behind. By providing you with powerful data-powered insights, web scraping can give your business a significant advantage to help you outperform the competition, produce better products, and provide superior customer service.
Web scraping is accessible to businesses of all sizes
Web scraping was once the domain of large companies that could afford to invest in the talent and technology required to extract large amounts of publicly available data from the internet. Like all other areas of technology, web scraping has since evolved with solutions that give smaller players the tools required to implement cost-effective data acquisition strategies at scale.
Besides ecommerce, applications for web scraping are numerous and continue to grow as businesses across all sectors increase their demand for data. With more information coming online each day, almost every industry is leveraging the power of web scraping, such as the investment industry, healthcare, media, real estate, travel, and more.
How web scraping works
Web scraping uses specially programmed scripts to crawl the internet and extract data from ecommerce websites and online marketplaces. These scripts (or “bots”) make hundreds of data requests per second, and then parse and deliver them in a format that can be read by marketing analysts.
The process can be complex and challenging at times. This is because website servers can recognise these bots if they come from a single Internet Protocol (IP) address. To avoid this issue, the use of proxies is absolutely essential as they provide anonymity to balance out the requests, make them appear organic, and prevent the server from being overloaded.
Proxies come in various types that include datacenter proxies, residential proxies, and next-gen residential proxies that leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technology to increase data extraction success. In addition, since most ecommerce sites use different layouts and HTML formats, next-gen proxies are able to more effectively read the code and return data values such as:
- Product title
- Current price
- Previous price
- Product description
- Product ID
- Image URLs
- Product IDs from URLs
- Other URLs from the page
Ecommerce web scraping strategies
Web scraping gives you the power to create marketing campaigns, product strategies, and competition analysis with greater precision than ever before. Some initial strategies you can use for your ecommerce business include:
Smart merchants in early times used to analyse their competitors by observing their product selection in a physical marketplace (or bazaar) or by sending people to visit other stores in their area to take notes on the inventory. Today, web scraping gives you the power to do that on a much larger scale by providing valuable product data on what’s being sold on millions of websites across the entire internet.
Web scraping extracts data to give you the most recent information on popular products, upcoming categories, and the latest trends. Besides learning what’s new and what’s hot, you can also use web scraping to gauge consumer sentiment by extracting data from review and comment sections on a wide range of public websites.
Smart marketers know that the best “marketing” doesn’t really feel like marketing. Web scraping can help you in this regard by delivering text from actual comments and reviews that you can use in your product descriptions, articles, blog posts, and advertising copy to provide an authentic customer experience.
You can take product monitoring further with a detailed competition analysis backed by the power of data. Web scraping helps you monitor the competition by scraping data from their ecommerce site(s).
Obtain product information, catalog data, inventory/stock information, and shipping policies. Scrape reviews and comments to get insights on what makes their products successful, or gain insight from dissatisfied customers that can be used to create and market products with higher standards that weren’t met by your competitors.
Dynamic pricing is everywhere. Most of us have experienced it in action on travel websites where prices on flights and hotels can change in minutes.
With profit maximisation in mind, a dynamic pricing strategy can take multiple demand and supply factors into account such as production costs, inventory counts, and shipping charges. Other external factors can also be included in the analysis, such as special sales (like Black Friday), new competitors, emerging brands, and seasonal changes that drive down prices in the summer or winter.
Web scraping helps you track all these factors simultaneously so you can employ a dynamic pricing strategy that increases sales, reduces inventory, and maximises profits in the long run.
How to get data via web scraping
As more data comes online, so has the popularity of web scraping. There are several ways to get the data you need that include:
- Inhouse web scraping, where companies have programmers and analysts available to write scripts, perform data extraction, and analyse the data for insights
- Purchasing data sets from an external provider or agency
- Outsourced web scraping with customisable third-party tools that deliver data ready to be analyzed
Looking for more data-powered ecommerce strategies?
Ready to learn more about web scraping for your ecommerce business? When it comes to implementing effective product and pricing strategies, web scraping is the ultimate tool to leverage the power of data for maximized ecommerce success. To learn more about extracting data for use in ecommerce, check out our latest article outlining additional strategies and uses for web scraping and alternative data.
Andrius Palionis, vice president of enterprise solutions at Oxylabs.io