Upgrade your e-commerce strategy with web scraping

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Is your e-commerce enterprise leveraging the power of external data to enhance decision-making, maximize 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 e-commerce, 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 e-commerce 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 recognize 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 e-commerce 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 titleCurrent pricePrevious priceCurrencyProduct descriptionProduct IDImage URLsProduct IDs from URLsOther URLs from the page

E-Commerce 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 e-commerce business include:

Product monitoring

Smart merchants in early times used to analyze 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.

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.

Competition monitoring

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 e-commerce 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

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 maximization 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 maximizes 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 analyze the data for insightsPurchasing data sets from an external provider or agencyOutsourced web scraping with customizable third-party tools that deliver data ready to be analyzed

Photo credit: mtkang / Shutterstock

Andrius Palionis is VP of Enterprise Solutions at Oxylabs.io

Author: Martha Meyer